Getting clients in the door can be tough. But getting them to stick around once they’ve arrived can be challenging too. Whether you work for yourself or for an organization, you may struggle with client flight. Understanding why clients leave can help you re-orient for retention strategies.
6 common reasons clients leave include:
- Trust – the client may no longer feel you’re keeping up your end of the bargain
- Pain – you may be getting into overwhelming, painful or difficult work
- Communication – the client may not feel you’re available or responsive
- Fit – the client may not feel you’ve got a mutual bond or they may have suffered a rupture in their alliance with you
- Cost (time or money) – the client may have run out of financial resources or time or, if they’re being funded, they may not feel like your funding covers what they need
- Expectations – the client may not feel like you’re meeting promises or they may not even know where the work is headed
When clients walk, it’s hard not to take it personally. The professional-client relationship can be deeply personal, with the bond driving much of the work. If the client gets up and walks out the door, you lose your connection to that person, as well as the meaning and purpose of the work you were doing.
So, how can you keep clients from leaving?
- Get personal. Work with clients to find out their needs and expectations.
- Set goals. Make sure you and the client are clear on where the work is headed and how you know you’re meeting goals.
- Accept feedback. Encourage clients to let you know what they need and what you can do to better serve them. Rather than just waiting for the client to speak, you can also use check-ins at the end of an appointment or more formal evaluations and surveys.
- Be consistent. Reliable, clear communication and processes help set client expectations, reduce anxiety and give them assurances.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues. Your client’s facial expressions, eye contact, voice, posture, movements, breathing and other cues may help you better understand what they’re experiencing.
- Be responsive. Let clients know the best ways to get hold of you and try to set their expectations about how quickly you can typically respond.
- Handle complaints and resolve conflicts. While complaints can be hard to hear, this feedback can help you right wrongs and get your services back on track. Working to resolve complaints and conflicts can help retain clients, preserve your word-of-mouth reputation and strengthen your bond with the client.
- Build an inclusive mindset. Look to use inclusive and non-discriminatory language. Assess your client’s level of self advocacy — even someone who quits may be self-advocating. Take a look at some inclusive language examples.
- Use reflective practice. With proven models for reflecting on your work, you can turn experiences into knowledge that improves your work and relationships with clients.
CareQuadrant offers a suite of courses to help professionals build inclusive practices and better engage with clients. Visit learn.carequadrant.com to learn more about our courses.