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Saving A Lost Client
A big client has just called, written, or faxed and cancelled their account. Your company has been fired. What do you do next?
This is one of the most emotionally challenging situations in business, and you must handle it personally. Want to achieve real success? Try these strategies.
1. Set Up A Meeting
Call, write, send a telegram, have the boss call, do whatever is necessary to get an appointment with the decision maker. Don't show up in person without an appointment. Don't discuss the situation on the phone. You need an in-person appointment.
2. Review The Account
Before the call to set the appointment, and again before the appointment, review all the data on the customer's account from before they became a prospect to present day. You want to find out why they signed in the first place. You want to find out what miracles you have performed for them in the past, so you can remind them of them. You want to find out what complaints they have ever had, with you or other suppliers. You want to find out what excites the decision maker. All this data should be in the permanent customer file. If it isn't, then it is your job to create a system for this in the future.
3. Ask The Tough Questions
And wait for an answer. Questions like: What happened? What went wrong? What specific behaviors led to the problem?
These require a feeling of safety on the part of the client for them to answer. This is what you should spend every customer contact trying to develop. You will need them when the time comes for the client to fire you.
Let them talk as long as they like. Listening is therapeutic; it is the most healing interpersonal activity. Listen to them until they talk themselves out of firing you.
4. Don't Get Defensive, Or Try To Explain
In the decision maker's eyes they have done what they had to do for the best interest of their business. Let them tell you how they feel, and don't take away their right to their own feelings (no matter how absurd they may seem).
5. Follow Up (short notes yield long results)
No matter how many times you hear these words it can never be enough. And be creative, everyone sends thank you notes. Set yourself apart (a Hershey bar or pack of Life Savers attached to a hand written note works wonders).
6. Focus On What Has Worked In The PastThink of all the ways you have rebuilt damaged relationships with friends, family, business associates, coworkers, etc. Stick with what works, and work it until you succeed.
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© SMBC Incorporated 2007