Neil Sedaka put it best, “Breaking up is hard to do.” And when it comes time to “breaking up” with a client, there is no uncomplicated way to say, “Let’s just be friends.” Firing a client should always be a last resort and implemented with care and consideration. The goal is to allow the client dignity in the severing of the relationship as well as leaving the door open for you, to one day re-examine the opportunity of beginning a new functional and productive relationship but under different terms and circumstances.
Here are guidelines for you to consider as you change your relationship status with any of your clients.
- Assess the reasons for terminating the relationship. Before taking any action, it is important to assess the situation and the reasons behind the decision to terminate the relationship. Consider whether there have been any violations of the contract or any unethical and/or illegal behavior. Also evaluate whether you have tried to resolve the issues with the client and have exhausted all the options.
Moreover, it is important to determine the extent of impact losing this client will have on your business. If it is going to have a significant adverse effect on your bottom line, it is imperative that you find a way to mediate and attempt to salvage the relationship.
- Communicate the issues both in writing and verbally. Objectively assess if the communication has been consistent both on your part and the part of the client. If there has been a lack of response, failure to follow through which has resulted in the ability of your company to complete contracted tasks, that is a critical component to this decision.
Schedule a meeting, virtual or in person, or call and express your concerns in a professional and respectful manner. Be clear about the issues that have led to this decision and give the client the opportunity to respond and address the issues. It is essential to follow up this conversation in writing with detail regarding all the concerns and issues discussed. Be sure to include any action items and which party has responsibility for these as well.
- Review your contract or engagement letter. Evaluate whether your company has fulfilled its contracted obligations and provided all requested products where possible. It is highly recommended that you complete any/all open projects before terminating the client. Offering a suggestion for a substitute option or competitor at this point can often be perceived by the client as both gracious and professional.
- Provide an action plan. Provide the client with a plan of action to address any fixable issues. Offer guidance and support to help the client improve the relationship and work towards resolving the issues.
- Offer a graceful exit. If the client cannot or will not address the issues, offer a graceful exit from the relationship. Be professional and courteous in your communication and provide clear details about how the process will work and what the next steps are.
- Keep records. Maintain detailed records of all communications related to the firing of the client. This should include all e-mails, meeting notes, and phone call logs. This information may be useful in the future.
Remember that firing a client is not an easy decision and should only be executed when all other options have been exhausted. It is important to approach the situation with professionalism and empathy, while also protecting yourself and your business.
Smart brands know that the overall customer experience is a vital cog in the system of success, now more than ever before. Consumers no longer base their brand loyalty strictly on pricing or even the product. They now stay loyal to companies simply due to experiences. Stats show that 96% of customers say customer service is a critical component in which brands they stay loyal to and customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies who don’t focus on customer needs.
But there seems to be a disconnect; recent surveys indicate that:
- 1 in 26 unhappy customers will not complain?
- 91% of unhappy customers will simply leave a business without ever bringing their issues to customer service?
Why is it that brand experiences are so important to customers, but most of them avoid the opportunity to make theirs better?
1. Customers think complaining won’t change anything
As a consumer yourself, you can relate to the frustration of feeling like your complaints are falling on non-responsive ears. Many customers have either complained in the past and no changes were made or no resolution provided to them, or they assume the problem is an industry-standard and that a company simply doesn’t care about them – like others they’ve encountered in the past.
Statistics show that a whopping 79% of consumers who shared a complaint about poor customer experience online were ignored.
If a customer sees giving feedback as a waste of time there’s no incentive for them to bring concerns to your business’s attention
2. Customers have a fear of damaging a long-term relationship with a business
In cases where a customer has an ongoing relationship with a business, the customer may fear conflict or potential retribution if they complain. Will they receive worse service next time? Will an employee that made a mistake get fired because of them? Will it damage their business partnership? And will it result in an even worse brand experience?
A great example of this relatable fear is one we all have had at one time or another: complaining about a restaurant server to their manager before the server brings our food. And the server tampers with our food in some way for retribution. To avoid this scenario, customers often tolerate lackluster service rather than have to worry about being a potential victim of an angry wait staff.
3. Customers believe their issue is not critical enough to report
Oftentimes customers experience an issue, but it’s minute and they feel it’s not worth the hassle of complaining about, so they won’t bring it up at all. They would rather save the time and effort it takes to make a complaint and use it on something else more important.
4. The complaint process is too difficult
Many customers don’t complain because they simply don’t know how to escalate their complaint beyond the customer service staff member they are currently dealing with, can’t reach the correct department, or find themselves on hold for hours. If they do wait for a general manager they might end up talking to someone who can’t actually fix their problem and this discourages them from making further complaints. In fact, 72% of people see having to explain their problem to multiple people as poor customer service, and 44% of consumers say a customer representative has given them the wrong information.
5. Customers don’t want to give unsolicited feedback
There’s another reason why unsatisfied customers don’t complain: you never ask them for feedback .Some customers are simply more reserved than others and will not go out of their way to provide feedback unless you explicitly ask them for it, even if they’re dissatisfied.
3 Reasons why customer complaints are good for business
Negative customer feedback isn’t always a bad thing. Learn how customer complaints can be used to help improve your products, services, operations, and customer experience.
1. Complaints identify important areas of service in need of improvement
Customer complaints help identify problems with the features or aspects of your products or services that aren’t as convenient or well-developed as other areas. Over 60% of customer experience professionals use customer feedback to help them prioritize better investments in products, services, and customer experiences.
Instead of searching for ways to make your services and products more appealing to your target audience, you can easily look at your customer complaints as a resource of insights on what part of your product and services need to be adjusted or upgraded. By looking at bad reviews you will often find good ideas from customers for improving your products and services that you didn’t think of previously.
Customer complaints also help identify specific departments that are typically falling short, as well as staff members who may need additional training, closer supervision, or possible termination.
2. Complaints help identify needed improvements in company policies and procedures
Customer complaints are really a reality check for your business. They can help identify operational deficiencies – highlighting flaws in your internal processes and pinpointing what areas of your external operations are not working well for customers. You can create a more efficient operation by knowing which procedures and policies are effective and efficient, and which ones can be reworked or simply discarded altogether. This makes strategic planning for growth and development much easier.
3. Complaints open more doors for customer communication
Complaints give your business more opportunities to speak with customers. Knowing and understanding your customers is a key point every successful business focuses on. When you know more about your customers; who they are, what their interests are, and what they think about your company, you can build more effective sales and marketing strategies.
Customer complaints can also indicate if any information your company is providing through your website, marketing materials, sales reps, or other communication channels is misleading, out of date, or simply lacking clarity. Statistics show that unhappy customers tend to leave companies because they don’t feel like a company cares about them, so it’s important to let them know that their feedback is valued and their opinions are acknowledged, even if it’s a dagger to the company’s ego.
It’s also critical to act on complaints and provide quick resolutions. This makes it clear to customers there is an open line of communication and their thoughts and problems matter to your company, which increases the chance they’ll continue doing business with you and/or provide a positive review of your company to their friends and family.
The average American will tell 15 people about a poor customer experience. Customer loyalty is not just about catering to your promoters and happy customers, it’s about taking care of each customer as if they were your only customer.
Destiny Driven” Team Ideology and Series
A Destiny Driven Team Solves, Not Just Sells
Stop selling your employees about why they need to perform better. Explain why their contributions help solve problems and contribute to the company’s/clients advancement. Employees are more inclined to step up their game when they know their work can add-value to the healthier whole of the organization.
People tend to do three things when faced with a problem: they get afraid or uncomfortable and wish it would go away; they feel that they have to come up with an answer and it has to be the right answer; and they look for someone to blame. Being faced with a problem becomes a problem. And that’s a problem because, in fact, there are always going to be problems!
One of the key components of a successful team originates from their ability to solve problems as they arise, and do so in a collaborative, non-judgemental way. This can be more difficult than it sounds, but it’s important to remember that it’s a TEAM problem, so what’s needed is a TEAM solution.
To begin with, a leader who is focused on results and has their finger on the pulse of the team is going to be able to determine where the gap is in service or quality. It might take some time and a little investigation to ascertain where the bottleneck is, but it is always the responsibility of the team lead to find the issue and then determine the best way to solve it. Additionally, how a leader sets the tone for dealing with an issue is key to how your team members will not only react, but how effectively they will work to fix it.
Because people are born problem solvers, the biggest challenge is to overcome the tendency to immediately come up with a solution. Let me say that again. The most common mistake in problem solving is trying to find a solution right away. That’s a mistake because it tries to put the solution at the beginning of the process, when what we need is a solution at the end of the process.
When a client has called me with an issue, I might try to ascertain if there is one specific individual on my team who is at the root of the issue, but I tend to keep that as personal intel I don’t share with my team. It’s information that I keep in a mental file, but I don’t necessarily jump to the assumption that the entire issue rests solely in their hands. Instead, I gather the client team together to address the issue together for a problem solving session.
Why? Because years of managing people has taught me that approaching a problem as a puzzle the team needs to solve together is going to generate much better ideas – and results – than pulling one person into my office and asking them why they’re messing up. All that typically generates is defensiveness, excuses, and resentment. Conversely, if people feel that they have a team behind them to support them and work with them on fixing an issue they are much more likely to react positively and want to find an answer.
It’s a proven fact that people who feel they are part of a cohesive unit working toward one goal are much more likely to step up to the plate. Think of the most successful sports teams in history along with the most revered coaches. Both have been born from a shared sense of work ethic, working collaboratively to solve an issue. While there may be a standout player here and there, the best of the best always know that the team wins together and fails together. And when you solve problems collaboratively, you increase the amount of stakeholders and the people who want to make sure the solution works. The more people who care, the more likely you’ll find success.
Here is the seven-steps I use for an effective problem-solving process.
- Identify the issues.
Be clear about what the problem is.
Remember that different people might have different views of what the issues are.
Separate the listing of issues from judgment and blame. Too often, team problem solving sessions can become a witch hunt of who to blame or who gets the passed buck passed to their desk last. All this ends up creating is a culture of suspicion and mistrust, and it is the quickest enemy to a cohesive, collaborative team. Instill from the start that the issue is the PROBLEM, not the person. If it seems like the issues do seem to consistently involve one team member, start by finding out if there are tools or training they need that could easily solve the problem.
- Understand everyone’s interests.
This is a critical step that is usually missing.
Interests are the needs that you want satisfied by any given solution. We often ignore our true interests as we become attached to one particular solution.
The best solution is the one that satisfies everyone’s interests but that might not be possible. Find the one that satisfies the most.
This is the time for active listening. Put down your differences for awhile and listen to each other with the intention to understand.
Separate the naming of interests from the listing of solutions.
- List the possible solutions (options)
This is the time to do some brainstorming. There may be lots of room for creativity.
Separate the listing of options from the evaluation of the options.
- Evaluate the options as a team.
What are the pluses and minuses? What is the “all-around” answer. Remember that perfect is often the enemy of the good here. You’re looking for the best all-around solution to the problem. You’ll never find one that works from all angles and makes everyone absolutely happy, but you can find one that will be accessible and actionable.
Separate the evaluation of options from the selection of options.
- Select an option or options.
What’s the best option, in the balance?
Is there a way to “bundle” a number of options together for a more satisfactory solution? Share the work among team members? The possible issue could be a result of one person doing too many things.
- Document the approach you’re going to take to solve the problem.
Don’t rely on memory.
Writing it down will help you think through all the details and implications.
- Agree on contingencies, monitoring, evaluation, and accountability.
Conditions may change. Make contingency agreements about foreseeable future circumstances
How will you monitor compliance and follow-through?
Create opportunities to evaluate the agreements and their implementation. (“Let’s try it this way for three months and then look at it.”)
Effective problem solving does take some time and attention more of the latter than the former. But less time and attention than is required by a problem is not well solved. What it really takes is a willingness to slow down. A problem is like a curve in the road. Take it right and you’ll find yourself in good shape for the straightaway that follows. Take it too fast and you may not be in as good shape. *Add in accountability.
A Destiny Driven Team Focuses on Purpose, Not Just Profits
Employees are inspired by knowing that their hard work makes a difference beyond profitability. Destiny driven employees want leaders who see beyond the bottom line and look to create wider reaching impact that extends into the community and influences social causes.
We are all on this earth for a purpose. To teach, to learn, to grow, to help, to experience. I once read a story about a very successful millionaire who happened upon a monastery during a trip abroad whose focus was working with the poorest among us. Within weeks, the man changed his life around: donated his money and his possessions, sold his business, and joined the monastery as a monk* Needless to say, people in his life were shocked by this choice; many thought he had lost his mind. What did he have to say on the matter? He hadn’t lost his mind; he’d found his purpose. What he was put on this earth to do. Being a monk and working with the poor, taking the focus off of him and putting it on others, giving of himself every day rather than taking fulfilled him like nothing else had, even making money.
Now, this might be an extreme case, and certainly not all of us will find our purpose in such a selfless call. Conversely, your life’s purpose isn’t all about what you do when you’re at work. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find the right role in your job that will best inspire and stimulate you and where you can feel your talents are being used in their best way.
When I bring new people onto my team, I always have them take a personality inventory test before extending an offer. I’m not judging them solely on the results of the test, but I am trying to find insight into how they work, what makes them tick, how they interact with others, and where they are going to feel the most inspired. Someone who is an introvert, for example, is very unlikely to be a superstar in your sales department. Someone who is highly creative is not going to find their happy place working with analytics all day. Having this type of knowledge about a new hire has proven to be invaluable to me. I start out knowing where I can best plug them into my team to not just get the best out of them, but also where I can help them to feel the most fulfilled and purpose driven.
I once hired a talented woman in my marketing department who was working as an account manager and dealing directly with clients on a regular basis. Her role was to oversee all aspects of the clients’ account with us and ensure that all of the tasks they’d hired us to manage for them were being accomplished. She was performing well, but it became clear to me through our weekly check-in meetings that something was missing for her. She was getting the job done, but there was a decided lack of enthusiasm and joy in her spirit and her commitment to the team.
When I approached her about this, she shared with me that the constant interaction with the client that is required of an account manager made her feel like she wasn’t getting much accomplished, that instead, she was just making sure OTHER team members were getting the job done, and that wasn’t fulfilling for her. SHe felt more like a gatekeeper than someone who actually contributing in a meaningful way.
It became clear to me during this conversation that this woman was an executor, not a manager. For her to feel like she had put in a productive day at work she needed that task-oriented, crossed that off the list, here is what I produced that is making our work product better feeling. And while she was professional enough and talented enough to make sure her job got done, I knew she would never truly find her purpose working as an account manager. She would eventually come to this realization on her own and likely leave in a year or two.
Rather than lose a talented and valued team member, I realized it was time to pivot. Through a few more meetings, we found what kind of client work was inspiring to her. A highly analytical and strategic person, she enjoyed looking at metrics, key performance indicators, and performance analytics, finding the patterns and discovering where efforts where falling short, and then problem solving with the team to rectify them. Once we discovered this, I was able to work with my Marketing Director to transition her account management role to one where she became an analyst. Once she stepped into this role, the change in her spirit was almost immediate. She not was visibly happier, she became a shining asset on our marketing team as a analyst who could quickly see problem areas and correct them.
The lesson? Find a team members true purpose and you find the way to unlock their true potential. Additionally, if a team member feels that you value them enough to help them find that purpose at your company, you foster true loyalty and connection.
*Unlock people’s potential
*Spiritual teacher – there are spiritual principles that do work in a work situation.
A Destiny Driven Team Leader Knows the Ingredients, Not Just the Recipe
When you spend time with your employees, make it matter. Don’t just expect your time and title and the fact that you sign their paychecks to be enough to inspire them. Employees want a leader that pays attention and genuinely cares about them.
Great leaders take the time to know the ingredients before they can create the best recipe for success. Employees are most inspired when a leader takes the time to know them and show that they have their best interests at heart.
Make Yourself a Leader Who Conveys Humble Confidence
If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that the way you arrive at your destiny is at least as important as the place where you end up. As a Destiny-Driven leader who is focused on steering your team through rocky waters, there’s going to always be a lot of information and pressures that you’re privy to that your team is not, nor should they be. It’s crucial that as a leader, you always remember that you are the grounding rod for the team.
Teams that succeed do so because they trust in both the vision and the resiliency of the person in charge. After all, for a team to believe in your mutual destiny, they have to have absolute faith in you being the person to navigate that journey. That doesn’t mean that you handle all the pressures and deal with all the worries alone, and you certainly can’t do it without ensuring that you’re ready and able for the challenge. A true destiny-driven leader has to be up to the challenge, which requires you doing a lot of personal work on yourself, and you have a trusted team helping you execute and deliver.
We have all heard the phrase “Never let them see you sweat.” It’s typically a saying we associate with “competition”; never let THE OTHER GUY know you’re rattled or not prepared. But it’s also a sentiment that pertains to how you allow yourself to be viewed by your team as well. A CEO who appears to be frightened or flapable doesn’t inspire confidence or a sense of security in anyone. Consider some of our more revered and successful Presidents in history, like FDR or JFK; both of them were excellent leaders in part because they demonstrated and communicated a sense of authority and control in times of real crisis.
This is also true for a leader of a team of ten or a leader of thousands. In fact, a leader’s inability to maintain an appearance of confident control can result in making whatever difficulty you’re currently facing become twice as big as it was before. Consider this: If your team picks up a sense of panic from you, what will they likely do? You’re the person they are going to look during a stressful time, and if you appear to be worried, they’re not only going to worry themselves; many are going to interpret your concern as a sign that they should jump ship and find another job. The last thing you need during a professional setback is to lose some of your best team members. This is why it is crucial that a leader has cultivated the talent of always maintaining their “game face” and conveys a sense of stability and authority. How do you make that happen?
It’s crucial that you continually invest in “me time” and self care. This can be counterintuitive to some leaders, who believe that working around the clock is always the answer. But consider this; if you’re continually stressed and have not cared for your physical and mental well-being, how can you possibly meet new challenges and setbacks when they arise? Think about a time in your personal or professional life where you weren’t taking care of yourself. Maybe it was when you were in college, cramming for exams and not getting enough sleep or proper nourishment. Maybe it was when you were working several jobs in your youth to be able to get a downpayment on a car or a house. If a setback had come along at that time, – like your car breaking down or an illness in your family – would you have been able to meet that challenge with all of your power and focus? Of course not. And being a leader is no different.
When coaching leaders, I always stress the importance of taking personal time for rest, reflection, and growth. Meditation, retreats, moments with family and friends, and vacation time are all worthy of your attention and are absolutely needed in order for you to be at your fullest potential to be a leader who has the focus and personal resources to see a team through a crisis. You need to be at your best; clear-headed, rested, balanced and strong. Find a routine that works for you and adopt it as your new normal and you will notice the difference.
Building a Team that Can Weather the Storm
There’s a lot of sayings we have all learned over our lives that speak to the importance of having the right parts of the puzzle in place: The whole is only as good as the sum of its parts.
A Destiny Driven Team is Focused on Innovation, Not Just Ideation
When given the right role and resources, the best employees will instinctively challenge themselves to be more innovative in their work – and will perform better. Provide your employees the resources and inspiration to be innovative in their work. Stay close enough to your employees’ activities to know the 2 or 3 skills and/or resources that each would require to take their performance to the next level.
A Destiny Driven Team is Focused on Significance, Not Just Success
Helping your employees to be successful is important, but not inspiring enough in itself. People want more out of their leaders and if you can activate the natural talents of your employees in ways that make them feel more responsible about their jobs, you will be inspiring something that is more significant; true pride and joy in their work. This has longer lasting impact.
A Destiny Driven Team is Focused on Personal Growth, Not Just Responsibility
when a leader can help foster the professional growth and development of their employees that performance most flourishes. Leaders must take more time to mentor their employee’s development and growth outside the office as well as inside.
A Destiny Driven Team Focuses on Empowerment, Not Just Accountability
A Destiny Driven Team Focuses on Respect, Not Just Recognition
A Destiny Driven Team Focuses on Collaboration, Not Just Execution
A Destiny Driven Team Focuses on Excellence, Not Just Status Quo
A Destiny Driven Team Focuses on Trust, Not Just Transparency
As the CEO of a marketing agency that has been in business for over 24 years, I have heard the laments of many businesses that have wasted many resources on developing a business. A good brand has thought about the efforts of growing a company.
Review your brand against these elements.
Having read from successful CEOs , marketing professionals, and from personal experience, I can attest that nurturing a “Good Brand” for a company is one of the best investments an organization can make.
It is great to have a “Good Brand”. Employees, staff and vendors notice a difference when they are in the presence of a Good Brand. It is as a solid presence, a presence that says “we stand for X” we will help you to achieve X. It is the power of the brand.
Team spirit is easy to lose if the company doesn’t support it. If the company cares for the staff, they will reciprocate for the most part. A cohesive team is not easy to gain either. While I am not an expert , I can provide our experience in acquiring it and the benefits.
5 Elements of a Good Brand
These are the most important elements for a brand to possess:
It is Purposeful
A strong brand knows what it is and what is not. It is defined and created to be the umbrella for the company. It aligns the employees internally and projects a strong brand image to prospective customers and real customers.
It is Unique
Strong Brands know their Customer Value proposition and can easily articulate it to their prospective customers. Their staff knows clearly what they stand for and align these principles with their own values.
It Knows its Target Market
A strong brand knows who is the right potential target market to purchase its products and services. It creates messaging that resonates with them. It builds a connection with its target market and creates a solution for a need.
It is Consistent
A strong brand is consistent with its look, message, and character. A brand character is usually defined early on, you can select any character from serious, to funny or laid back. The goal is to be consistent with the messages, and tone the quality. This will translate into a strong brand.
It is Authentic
A strong brand that is authentic, doesn’t try to imitate its competition. It sets itself apart from the competition by being or doing something that it cares about. By providing exceptional “Customer Service” or Technology advanced products, or always innovating. An authentic brand knows where they stand in the marketplace.
Benefits of having a “Strong Brand”
These next elements will ensure your marketing waste is minimal after 6 months. The key is to follow up on these five factors.
Higher Retention of Talent
Staff will stay longer at the company when the organization has a strong brand with values that are well implemented.
When the values of the staff resonate with the values of the employees, it creates pride and connection with the company. Having a strong brand also means that employees have clear goals, which gives your staff a sense of purpose in their role.
Better and More Job Candidates
Fostering a strong brand will promote your company work culture to outsiders looking for work. Having a good work culture improves your company’s reputation for job seekers, allowing you to find higher quality applicants that best suit new openings.
Having a strong brand will generate more sales because the right brand messaging resonates with your customers. Brand messaging helps to increase sales by setting your company apart, in a positive way. Customers will spread the word to others who seek out the same values that your brand possesses. Having a strong brand makes it more likely that prospective customers will put their trust in your company. Your brand is what customers will remember, so having a strong brand ensures that your company will be remembered.
Companies with a strong brand have significantly higher value. At the time of valuation, companies with strong brands will always come out on top.
A Healthier Company
Promoting a strong brand is very important for the overall functioning of your company. By promoting a strong brand, you will set your company up for success.
Defend the Brand
My final advice for nurturing a strong brand is to have very clear brand guidelines, for each of your audiences that interact with your brand. For example, vendors, staff, employees, executive team, customer service team, etc.
Make sure everyone knows the benefits of a strong brand.
At Cazarin Interactive, we strive to have a great, strong brand and understand that we all represent the company. We create joy together! This is very important to us.
Be purposeful when promoting your brand. Make sure your brand messaging is well developed and that it is well understood by your employees and stakeholders. Develop clear brand guidelines that are easy to access. When the brand messaging is promoted you can focus on what is important to the brand from its services. Including its products, caring for the environment, and caring for its people. Just be consistent on the message and make sure that everyone is aligned in understanding the brand.
When someone selects Cazarin Interactive as their marketing partner, our team becomes a part of their company. We seek to have long term relationships with our customers and pay for ourselves by increasing sales and enhancing their brand. We will nurture joy and respect in our interactions with your company.
Do you want to utilize our Marketing Fusion (™) and see real growth in your business? Contact our marketing department today.
How do you nurture “Team Spirit” in your organization today?