Losing a client is never easy. But rather than taking it on the chin, practitioners have used exit interviews to flip client departures into a growth strategy.
Late this summer, AccountingWEB member Moonbeam vented their frustration at a client moving on. The client filled Moonbeam with dread every time they called. But despite feeling relieved that they wouldn’t have to deal with the client again, the overriding feeling was regret: “This was a good client for me earnings wise and I am gutted,” Moonbeam said.
“It came about for my personal piece of mind,” she told AccountingWEB. “In the same way I ask people how they heard of us, it's out of curiosity.”
These impromptu interviews proved useful for Pocock, where the feedback has helped inform her continuous improvement agenda.
A client leaving is a fact of life, but Pocock took a proactive stance to ensure the firm not only learns from the episode but grows. “Is it good enough to just be okay, or should we be doing something extraordinary?”
Since running the exit interviews Pocock has refined her service offering by overhauling her on-boarding strategy and client communication. In one example, Pocock received a professional clearance letter from a longstanding client. Of course, she was surprised, but when she rang him the client explained that he was going through a period of growth and felt the firm did not give him the right amount of support.
The information from the exit interviews plays a role in the firm’s weekly planning meeting. Along with looking at new clients, the planning sessions is a place to review who is leaving and the reasons why.
“It doesn't matter how long you've been in business. If someone leaves you can't help but take it personally,” Pocock said. “If the team has heard someone has left and they don't know why then, for morale, that needs to be explained and talked about and it is not the end of the world.”
But the strategy meetings are far from just reviewing exiting clients; they are also about celebrating the week’s success and areas for improvement. When a client leaves it is important to remind yourself of your extraordinary client care.
“Just for the rest of the team it is good to know, whoever it is who's telling the good news, that's brilliant for them and their morale but also for the rest of team to hear it too,” she said.