Once a client relationship is lost, regaining their trust and confidence can feel like an impossible task, but one, in many cases, well worth venturing. This difficult situation is one that no doubt every financial advisor has experienced at least once in their career. Maybe a client was unsatisfied with the results, maybe the fees, or perhaps even something you may have said. Regardless of the situation, one thing is for sure, they are gone. So let’s talk about how advisors can go about rekindling that lost relationship and begin to turn those previous clients back into new ones.
Try to Understand What Went Wrong
The reason why it can be so important to undergo the process of understanding what went wrong, is because it could have detrimental effects on both you, and your practice. Maybe the issue is something other clients are experiencing, or maybe it’s something you can learn from. To understand the problem you’ll have to first accept that there could be one. Look at things from a fresh perspective and really dive in from the client’s point of view. Keep in mind that studies have shown that the primary reason why client’s leave is due not to price, or product, but from bad customer service (in some surveys up to 74% of respondents have cited bad customer service as being at fault.)
One of the simplest and best ways to start understanding the problem is by inviting the previous client out to dinner. By having dinner with your previous client as opposed to just calling them or trying to get them back in your office, you create a non-stressful environment, which is crucial for this kind of conversation to take place. Make them feel relaxed and at ease during this time period, do not try to sell them on anything, just listen.
Have Multiple Pleasant Touch Points
After someone has had a bad experience, they typically feel bitter or carry a negative bias towards that person. In order to rekindle a lost client relationship it’s important to have multiple pleasant touch points with them to try and overturn this negative bias. Offer the previous client a complementary service from time to time. Or send them a hand written letter during special occasions. A simple gift also goes a long way, especially if you know what this client enjoys. The point is that you want to make the previous client feel special and resentful about leaving you.
Tackling the Reacquisition
Once you’ve discovered the problem, you need to show them you fully understand it and then communicate a way to fix it. Counter the issue and open up the discussion again with a simple question after identifying the issue and solution. For example: “Jim, if I can [make better said issue] would you reconsider my services?”… This kind of direct resolution puts the client in a situation where their integrity is now in check. If this really was an “issue” and now you proposed a solution to it, they will feel obligated to respond affirmatively.
When It’s Time To Simply Move On
Sometimes despite your best efforts, some people you just can’t win over. It’s important to know when that time has come. When your prior client tells you not to call him anymore, or simply ignores your messages, it may be time to start prospecting again and find new clients.
At the end of the day, it’s important regardless of what the issue is, to be proactive about smoothing over lost client relationships. People are much more inclined to talk negatively towards others when they’ve had a bad experience as opposed to when they’ve had a good one. So even if you can’t win over a lost client relationship, it’s still in your best interest to smooth over any rough edges. So when all else fails just express your deep sympathy and understanding; letting them know in a very charismatic and friendly way you appreciate their time and you’re sorry you couldn’t help.