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Closure: Giving Customers the Final Word

Note: This piece is written by Lisa Hession-Kunz, Executive Interviewer at Anova. Having performed hundreds of client debriefs, Lisa shares her perspective of a Departed Client program and the impact that such research delivers to organizations and to the departed clients.

A client has just dumped you. They left you for another business provider who promised better service, more functionality, or cost savings.

Maybe they left due to forces beyond their control. Maybe this was a result of an acquisition or merger, or a new directive based on a personal relationship, and there was nothing you could have done.

More often however, a client leaving a business relationship has gone through a frustrating experience. Perhaps they felt you didn’t listen to them or value their business. Perhaps they tried to resolve an issue for a long time and even if the problem was satisfactorily addressed, they still do not feel valued as a customer.

Even though they are leaving, they are willing to do so with a few parting words of insight and advice. So, what can you do?

Give them the final word.

Have you wanted to give a company a piece of your mind? Having an opportunity to vent and knowing that someone is listening, taking notes, and reporting back to senior management is cathartic.

From the Executive Interviewer’s perspective, we are there to listen. We listen to stories about service issues, product functionality gaps, pricing concerns, and outside forces. We listen to the real story that led to the dissolution of the relationship. The customer doesn’t have to be polite; they just say what is on their minds.

If there was a negative experience, customers often long to complain to someone who will listen. We let them do just that and then probe deeper to better understand the root causes, asking questions such as:

  • How and when they contacted the company?
  • Who responded? Was the issue resolved with respect?
  • How had they wished the issue had been handled?

Customers also often offer solutions that fit within your company’s structure. The departed customer knows the communication channels, key contacts and can often pinpoint the breakdown that lead to their decision.

  • Tell me a bit about your search for a new provider – what were you looking for?
  • What did you find? How did you go about it?
  • What advice would you offer to improve the client experience?

Finishing the conversation on this note takes interviewees into a more positive place, a proactive thought process reflecting on what went right to begin with and how their experience may differ with their new provider. A departed client interview can leave your customer feeling better about your company despite the departure. In fact, many clients say that they would do business with you again and provide actionable insight for your team to avoid costly mistakes and another departed client. You just need to give them the voice to do so.