Why you Should Stay in Touch with Your Former Clients - Tubblog: The Hub for MSPs

Why you Should Stay in Touch with Your Former Clients

Why you Should Stay in Touch with Your Former Clients image

Have you ever experienced the pain of losing a client? Most of us have, often through no fault of our own. The former client is happy with your service but is simply looking for a cheaper deal, or has allegiances elsewhere (the boss’s nephew’s best friend runs an IT company…).

These things see them move business away from you for emotional rather than rational reasons.

While it can be painful to lose a client in this way, how you react will dictate whether you burn a bridge with the client, or leave the door open for them to return to you in the future.

I’ve written before about the difference between responding and reacting. Throwing a tantrum when your client chooses to leave will definitely do you no favours – however gratifying it may feel at the time.

In this article, I want to talk about the process of leaving the door open for any former clients to return to you, and why it is so important to your business to do so.

Former Clients will Forget You

Former clientsI have heard that 40% of former clients will forget who you are within six months. That means that if a business prematurely ends its relationship with the IT company who took over from you, when they come to look for another new supplier almost half won’t remember you.

I have also heard stories from Managed Service Providers (MSPs) time and time again that when they stayed in touch with a lapsed client, that client eventually returned to them.

It makes sense to stay in touch with lapsed clients — however hurtful it feels when they first “dump” you.

40% of lapsed clients will forget who you are within six months. Click to Tweet

So what are the best ways to stay in touch?

Let Former Clients Know You’re Thinking of Them

Working with former clientsThe easiest way to stay in touch with former clients is to occasionally contact them to let them know you haven’t forgotten them.

When I ran a Managed Service Provider (MSP) business, I kept my Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool up to date with former clients by labelling them as prospective clients. I also set a reminder to stay in regular touch with them.

While it can be difficult to know how much contact is too much, I typically reached out to former clients with a telephone call or e-mail every couple of months.

What you say when getting in touch with a former client is important. If you telephone or e-mail to say “How’s it going with the new IT company?” then you’ll come across as shallow, only interested in winning back the business.

Also, consider this – even if things aren’t going well with the new IT company, how many business owners like to admit they are wrong? Would you, in their shoes? It’s much more likely they’ll simply avoid your question.

Even if they decide to move to another IT provider, it won’t be you. That would be an admission of failure on their part.

Instead of enquiring about their new relationship, try forwarding an interesting blog post to them. Why not post them a magazine article with a short note, “I saw this, and thought you’d find it interesting”.

Doing so allows you to stay at the forefront of the former client’s mind. But in a supportive rather than “take me back!” way.

E-Mail Newsletters

Email NewslettersMany IT companies consider e-mail newsletters to be outdated, preferring blogs and social media. While blogs and social media have their place, email newsletters are still a useful tool.

A regular (at least monthly) email newsletter can help you stay in touch with former clients in a non-intrusive way. The newsletter must provide value to the reader, to ensure it’s important enough to open and read.

It should be sent to the right people within a business. Typically, that means a decision maker or an influencer – the MD or Office Manager.

I can’t tell you the number of times my own IT company won business thanks to an e-mail newsletter and being in the “right place at the right time”.

The email newsletter goes out and the former client sees it just as they are considering moving their IT support to a new home. You receive a ‘phone call. “I’m glad you got in touch! I’ve been meaning to speak with you.”

Such a conversation is often as good as a referral – the client knows and trusts you above anyone else they will speak to.

Be the Connector

Connect former clientsThe other way of keeping in touch is by continuing to refer other businesses and connections across to your former client. Nothing tells the lapsed client more that there’s genuinely no hard feelings between you than referring a potential client.

Even the occasional introduction between your former client and someone they’ve yet to meet who works in the same industry sends a positive message.

If you attend business networking events, then how about inviting your former client to attend? They’ll appreciate you thinking of them.

Conclusion

It’s often painful to lose a client. We can choose to react badly, let our emotions guide us and throw a tantrum, or we can respond graciously.

How we react to this painful situation can dictate whether that client will ever consider working with us again.

Stay in touch with former clients through the occasional telephone call or letter. Send an e-mail newsletter,  or make introductions and connections that are of value to them.

These are all excellent ways of staying front and centre of your former client’s mind. And you never know when they might be ready to return to working with you.

Now I want to hear from you. Have you ever lost a client, who has then decided to work with you again in the future? I’d be interested to hear your stories! Leave a comment below or get in touch to continue the conversation.

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RICHARD TUBB

Richard Tubb is one of the best-known experts within the global IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) community. He launched and sold his own MSP business before creating a leading MSP media and consultancy practice. Richard helps IT business owner’s take back control by freeing up their time and building a business that can run without them. He’s the author of the book “The IT Business Owner’s Survival Guide” and writer of the award-winning blog www.tubblog.co.uk

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Comments

5 thoughts on Why you Should Stay in Touch with Your Former Clients

MARK LIS

22ND JUNE 2017 13:31:03

I'm going through this again, this time it's a client I've had for 10 years, a big client for me they represent 25% of my income. They say it's purely financial and want to bring IT back in house, they have a youngster who's shifted over from another department, he has little knowledge & no experience. It's like giving a guy who's done a first aid course the job of senior surgeon. It's a huge blow to me, I have a meeting with them next week, it's going to be difficult, I will confess the emotional pain is a struggle! It will be touch and go if my business servives this.

RICHARD TUBB

22ND JUNE 2017 21:19:07

Mark -- I totally understand what you're going through. I hope you can find a way to respond appropriately, and let the client know that if (even though you know it'll be a *when*) the client needs you again, you'll be pleased to help. Good luck!

DAVE SIMON

25TH APRIL 2020 17:21:19

The tip "I saw this and thought of you" would work well for professionals working with business clients. So most accountants, some lawyers, a few architects, etc could benefit from this method of keeping previous clients aware of qualified professionals' services. There are many places during the 'First-Enquiry to Loyal-Client' pathway that small mentions can help - see https://more.consulting/encourage-more-clients-to-return.php

RICHARD TUBB

26TH APRIL 2020 12:28:29

Thanks for the feedback, Dave, and thanks for the link to your own article!

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16TH OCTOBER 2020 14:49:55

[…] establishing contact and maintaining it has never been easier. Every real estate agent builds a relationship with clients. With social media, they can keep in […]

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