Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: What to Do When Your Client Wants to Leave 

Not that you need another reason to get anxious, but you just got the email indicating that your customer wants to churn. I know the feeling. You feel embarrassed, frustrated and wish you could magically save the client.  

Ultimately, you want to burn the churn because existing customers are more profitable than new ones. You’ve had a good thing going for a while. You don’t want it to come to an end.  

Don’t give up that easily and accept their rejection. It is time to gear up and do your best to save your client or end the relationship on good terms. 

Stay Calm.  

You may feel frustrated that your efforts and investment in a client do not seem to be panning out. You may feel betrayed. You can feel the feels but keep your cool. You want to have a clear head to be able to hear their concerns and strategize effectively.  

Alert your manager.  

You’re not the first account manager to receive an email like this nor will you be the last. Your office probably has a protocol as to who should be alerted and how this email is flagged in your CRM and pipeline. Bite the bullet and let your boss know about the challenge ahead.  

Find out why they want to leave.  

You need to understand their concerns from their vantage point and more clearly from your vantage point.  Cinthia Silva, Customer Success Manager at NASDAQ and Moderator of RevGenius‘ RevWomen Roundtables agrees that you need to know more before you jump to the solution stage.

“The first question to ask is “why” and particularly “why now”? This simple question provides a broader perspective to the decision and is crucial to understand before planning a strategy to address it. Too many times, the immediate reaction is to offer a discount to solve the problem before understanding what led to the decision in the first place. Newsflash, if a client churns it’s rarely just about the cost. In my experience, if clients are experiencing the full value of your solution, they will happily pay for you to solve their problem.” 

cinthia silva, customer success manager at nasdaq and moderator of revgenius‘ revwomen roundtables
  • Ask the client for feedback. Find out if there have been changes on their end or if they were dissatisfied with you or your product or service. Ask why they had been a client and if something has changed.  
  • Do your homework. Analyze the history of the client. Review their KPIs and personal successes and how they compare to your other clients’ metrics. Determine if their expectations are realistic and if you can pinpoint adjustments that could be made to improve moving forward if they stay on as clients.  
  • Consult with your manager and colleagues. Two (or more) heads are better than one. A communal brainstorm allows you to benefit others who have a wealth of experience and knowledge of the field and your company’s ins and outs will allow you to test out the approach that you have already generated. They may encourage you to proceed with added guidance or they may have alternative ideas like a product switch or a new configuration or a free consulting session to reboot their service.  

“It’s always important to review the customer history and see how this account has been categorized. Where they a healthy account or at risk. This will help you assess the situation before you have the feedback session with your customer. Review past calls, Zendesk and Jira tickets and see if there are any outstanding issues.”

atara berkowitz wexler, customer success manager at brew

Face the music: Follow that up with a client meeting to review their concerns and share possible solutions to allay their concerns and keep them on board. If they are dodging your call, you can call the meeting an exit interview especially if you feel like that is the only way to get them to show. 

Give them an opportunity to give feedback to ensure that your solutions will meet their concerns. Prompting questions could include: 

  • What made you decide to leave? 
  • Could we have done more? 
  • Should we have done something differently? 
  • Are you moving forward with another company? 
  • Is there anything that we can do to keep you here? 

Taking their responses into account, present your research and ideas to your client and ask them to respond honestly. Know that you’ve done your best to understand your clients’ situation and presented them with viable solutions.  

“If someone doesn’t want to renew, then you just say, ‘thank you for being  a valued customer, and we are here in the future to help if needed.’ I am very much of the opinion that you can’t sell the unsellable.”

dov friedman, director of partnerships at sibme

Accept and respect their decision: 

If your client still wants to churn, you have to let them go. Wish them the very best. Maybe there was a change in leadership on their end or a shifting in priorities. Maybe you or your company was not able to meet their needs or expectations. See this as a learning experience and do not burn bridges. Thank them for your time together and for their helpful candor. 

If your client decides to renew, celebrate your win! Let your boss and team know, including anyone who helped you brainstorm, that y’all did it together. Don’t spend too much time celebrating though. You still have a client who is going to need some extra TLC coming up. Make sure that whatever adjustments you promised are put into place. Keep a close eye on them and nurture the relationship.  

Honestly, no matter the result, dealing with a potential churn is draining. You must be wiped! Remember that while this is a part of the job, no matter how good you are. While the pain of churn, or even potential churn, is real, remember that you have other clients and colleagues who appreciate you and still need you. That’s right. You are wanted and needed and human. Don’t let this get you down. 

No matter how one relationship or deal does or doesn’t pan out, you’ve always got your colleagues to lean on.

Looking for a way to collaborate with colleagues while navigating murky waters? Let us introduce Collabria, an email collaboration tool that keeps those private conversations private.

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