Six Steps for Saying Farewell Gracefully

Say Farewell GracefullyWhen a client wants to bid farewell, it pays to be professional. The challenge for many business people is that emotions get in the way of their better judgement. Frequently, feelings of anger and resentment cause otherwise good people to behave irrationally which is bad for business. To avoid the pitfalls of a poorly managed client departure, here are six basic steps to follow:

  1. Ask probing questions to learn why they are leaving
  2. Express regret for failing to meet their needs
  3. Offer to correct the situation to determine if they are willing to give you another chance
  4. If they’re determined to leave, cooperate fully with the transition
  5. Express appreciation for their past business
  6. Keep in touch

Chances are good your client is leaving because they’ve grown dissatisfied with your services on some level. This feedback can be hard to hear, but you need to glean what lessons you can from their feedback, and then use that information to improve upon your products/services where possible.

Whenever you fall short of the mark in serving a customer, your best course of action is to acknowledge your shortcomings and apologize. “I’m sorry” is often all that a client wants to hear. Along with an apology, let them know how you will work to avoid making that mistake again.

If apologies won’t help, then it is best to work with your client to transition smoothly to a new service provider. Indulging in petty behavior toward your client or the new vendor only serves to reinforce a negative perception about your company, and reduces any chance that your former client will return to you for more work down the road. It also leaves a bad impression with your competitor, giving them fuel to use against you in the marketplace.

While it may be unpleasant, losing a client to a competitor is never justification for abandoning basic business etiquette. Instead, take the high road during the separation transition. By maintaining your integrity, you will preserve your reputation, and leave the door open for clients to return at a future date.