Business owners, CEOs, and hiring managers alike can learn a lot from feedback gained in exit interviews. There’s a lot a typical employee might hold back during their tenure for fear of jeopardizing their job, but of course that becomes a non-issue once an exit interview is taking place.
The same concept can be true of a business and its clients. When a client chooses to discontinue service a brief survey or conversation can reveal a lot if there are flaws in the delivery of service etc.
Even when the exit interview fails, it can succeed.
Largely it would seem that the success of this conversation is dependent on honesty from both parties. If your client claims the cancelling of your service is purely for budgetary reasons and turns around and works with your competitor, for example, there’s obviously a disconnect in your relationship. While it’s possible that you’re simply dealing with a dishonest person, there could be other factors at play. Don’t get discouraged — even though you didn’t necessarily get a straight answer in this hypothetical, it can still raise some useful questions.
- If it truly is about price, is your competitor notably cheaper? If so, does their price negatively affect the quality of their service as it compares to yours, or are they doing something more efficiently?
- If price doesn’t seem to be the real factor at play, why didn’t your client feel they could be honest with you?
There are generally three areas from which the issue can arise: quality, speed, and expectations.
Quality – Does your product or service perform as advertised?
Speed – How promptly can you deliver your product or service? Even if it has great quality, if your service is sluggish you may lose customers to speedier competitors.
Expectations – This is probably the most important. If expectations are clearly set early on, the customer will know exactly what to expect in terms of speed and quality (as well as price). If expectations are not clearly set, you may run into surprises mid-project when your customer is unhappy despite everything going exactly to plan. Bottom line: you might be delivering exactly what you think you promised, but if for whatever reason the customer was expecting something else they may not end up satisfied.
You might make the best vanilla ice cream in town, but if they wanted chocolate it’s not going to matter.
Evaluate your target market.
Asking these type of questions is always useful, even if you determine the problem wasn’t directly on your end. Some people are unreasonable. Even so, being conscious of certain characteristics can help you refine your customer base going forward. Wouldn’t you prefer to stack your deck with ideal customers rather than those predisposed to be dissatisfied?