Lessons Learned: Client Cancellation
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Believe it or not, we are not perfect. Nobody’s perfect. And I have a real good example of this.
We just lost a client. I got an email from the client a couple of days ago and it said, hey, for the following reasons we are going to stop working with you. And this is a client that’s been with us for a long time.
So What Happened?
We’re not providing what we really consider to be digital marketing services to them. We were supporting their website. And that’s about it.
So we’re not doing the on on advertising, SEO, the video, anything like that. They have a WordPress website, and we were contracted to maintain it.
So with support, we do things like we patch all the plugins, we make sure that the WordPress version is up to date, and then any changes they need, they can come to us and get changes. So we offer unlimited changes.
Dealing with Cancellations
But the (cancellation) email startled me. Frankly, we don’t get a lot of these, right?
So we definitely bring on more clients than we lose. And since this is a recurring revenue model where every single month we’re billing for services, it adds up over time.
The concept here is that you want to add over time, not stay steady, and certainly you do not want to slide back. So when someone cancels with us, it’s a big deal. There were three points really for why he canceled.
One, he logged in and he saw it that some of the plugins had not been updated. Two, the WordPress version was out of date. Then three, he was not getting reports from us that said what the health of the system was.
Having a “Lessons Learned” Process
Whenever a client leaves us, we do a formal review internally to figure out why. Now what we’re not trying to do is get someone fired. What we’re trying to do is figure out what slipped in the cracks of our process so that we can fill those cracks up and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Identifying the Failure
So the very first thing that we identified or looked into, I should say, is the outdated plugins. So it did turn out that when he logged into his backend of WordPress, there were several plugins that were out of date.
Now the second thing was that the WordPress version was one version old, and we were going to get to it. So I’m not saying that as an excuse, but once a week on a regular basis, we login and we update these things.
It was about six or seven days since we had last logged in and, and he just caught it at the time where it just, you know, it was out of date but it was, it was on the schedule to get updated.
So it was just bad timing and frankly when he logged in it sounds like an excuse, but there was actually a reason for it. We just do it once a week. We can’t do it every single day.
An Overlooked Contract Deliverable
The last thing though was that he didn’t get reports, and this one was 100% our fault.
We had switched providers for monitoring the health and wellbeing of WordPress websites from one vendor to another. When we did that, we got a new set of reports and these reports are the ones that go out to the clients.
We received the reports for our own website and after several weeks I was sure that these reports were wrong. It was saying that the websites are just in bad shape, that we hadn’t updated in them in a long time. And I knew because I had logged in myself and confirmed. I knew that we were.
So what we did is we turned off the reports, not just for us but across the board.
The problem was we didn’t tell our clients. We were contractually obligated to send out these reports, and we decided not too. Bad on us. That is bad business practice.
Problem-Solving Damage Control
So once we realized that we had done this, we have since switched back to the original provider for these reports. These reports are accurate and now we’re going to turn them back on.
They’re going to all of our clients who get WordPress support. We’re letting them know, “Hey, we had an issue with the vendor. We weren’t happy with the reports that we switched to. These reports are accurate. We’re going to turn them back on. You’re going to get them every two weeks and they’re going to start going out next week.”
But this is bad on us, right? What you can’t do is change your internal processes that affect your contract deliverables. We did that and we lost a client.
Taking a Long Hard Look
Now thankfully, we did the lessons learned, and we figured it out. But you know, whenever you lose a client, you have to really be introspective and figure out why.
What could you have done to prevent it and what can you do in the future to make sure that you keep all of these hard won clients for as long as possible.
You want them to be so happy that they tell all their friends and tell all their business acquaintances and you don’t ever drop the ball, right? But if you start dropping balls, especially if you don’t understand why you’re doing it, you’re not going to succeed.