Have The Hard Conversations

Kimberly

Kimberly Berger

April 3, 2018

I have been working with a Her Corner member for almost a year now. On our last call, we discussed one of her biggest challenges: losing clients. Her business is a membership model, but the lessons I took away from the conversation apply to all types of businesses.

I started by asking her how many members she had lost in the last month. The number she gave me seemed high, but she assured me that this was industry standard and so she was fine with it. She was ready to move on to the next question. I was sort of stunned. If we were losing that many members each month at Her Corner, I would be pretty concerned. Here was a perfect example of a metric obscuring what is really going on. Because her rate of attrition was about industry standard, she wasn’t stopping to think about it. In her mind, as long as she was about average, she was fine. But it made me think: why?

WHY SHOULD WE THINK IT’S OKAY TO LOSE EVEN ONE CLIENT JUST BECAUSE THAT’S “AVERAGE”?

And, more importantly, by not recognizing that this was a critical issue, she was missing the opportunity to dig deeper and figure out why members were leaving in the first place. Remember, it is ALWAYS easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer than to go out and win a new one.

So instead of moving on to the next issue, we focused on the members who were leaving. I asked her what her process was for following up with those people. Did she track their names? Did she review a daily or weekly list of who had ended their memberships? Did she pick up the phone and call them? As far as I’m concerned, those clients walking out the door are a gold mine of information. Not only could they give you valuable feedback on what specific aspects of your business caused them to leave but, in most cases, they are more than happy to talk to you. They have nothing to lose—they’ve already quit. They don’t really care about hurting your feelings and so will likely be pretty honest with you.

But you won’t get the same sort of feedback if you only reach out with an email. That is not a sufficient form of outreach in this situation. Sure, it’s easier to hide behind the screen and simply press send. But this is your business.

So put on your big girl pants and have the difficult conversations. Try not to get defensive or see their feedback as a personal attack on you. Instead, realize that every insight you gain is an actionable piece of advice on how to better serve your existing and future clients. I can’t think of a better gift someone could give you as they walk out the door.