The gap between addressing expectations and client satisfaction can be frustrating.

Anyone who works ON their business has gone down the road of expectations. We craft emails, jump on conference calls and do follow up in an attempt to communicate precisely what we offer.

Many times in an attempt to recoup a miscommunication or address client concerns, we devalue our product or service. I am a firm believer in going above and beyond for clients, but there is a breaking point. The breaking point is when the product or service is no longer valued.

I am happy to give much more than I am paid. This creates firm, lasting client relationships that lead to revenue for both parties.

What I have learned from clients lost is that the breaking point came in the perception of value. No matter how hard I tried to convey results and processes, if the client’s perception of value is different than what I can offer, the relationship will not last. And that is OKAY!

Too many times, we fight for customer relationships that do not make sense of our business. They don’t offer life-time-value or impact our bottom line. An unsatisfied customer will never refer your business. Instead, time and money are lost in communication that will not lead to satisfaction on either side.

It is necessary to understand client concerns so we can maximize our processes, address errors in our systems and provide a stellar product or service. However, it is equally important to identify when the client/business relationship is not a good fit.

How to identify a bad fit:

  1. Mission Creep
    I first learned this term when working on retainer for a large media group. I had the privilege of building up their marketing consulting team. Their team used the term “mission creep” when clients asked for services that went beyond their agreement.
  2. Negative ROI for your team
    A mentor of mine says, “The lowest paying clients often expect the greatest amount of time and services.” So far in my career, this has proved to be so true. When a client understands how your product or service meets their needs, can afford you, and you provide what is promised, there are no issues. When things are a bad fit, the team often spends huge amounts and services that go beyond the agreement to appease the client.
  3. Time Traveling
    For pretty much any service, there are small errors [insert your experience] that are easily corrected once they are brought to light. For clarity, I am not talking about significant issues that show your product or service is faulty. When clients are not a good fit, it does not matter that your team corrected a small error. The issue is paramount for the client even after the correction is in place.

How to leave with grace:

  1. Do whatever is realistically possible to resolve concerns.
    Always admit fault when you or your team has made a mistake. Honesty is critical to your brand. Resolve anything that can be resolved. Meaning, if you didn’t do something that was promised, resolve the issue. Ensure the client feels heard and address each of their points with an explanation and potential solution.
  2. End the relationship, but provide precisely what you promised.
    It is okay to say, “We want you to be successful, even if that means discontinuing our team.” I always try to leave things on good terms. When there is a gap in the client’s perception of value and what you can realistically offer, merely reiterate what was promised and offer confirmation/evidence that the request was filled.
  3. Consider a refund.
    Brand is more important than pride. When you have fulfilled a service request, but the client is not satisfied it MIGHT be time for a refund. Refunds will depend on your product or service. For example, if your team built a car and the client isn’t happy it would not be ideal to provide a refund when employees spent months making the vehicle. It might be ideal to give a refund when a client is not satisfied, but dollars are easily recouped with another sale.

Try to end the relationship closer to break even.

The key is not to go too far down the line of negative ROI for your business. Factor in your brand image when evaluating ROI for the product or service. Dollars lost initially in ending a relationship peacefully may help your overall brand.

There are potential customers out there that can afford and need your product or service! Do not fight for those that cannot. Address concerns and offer the highest quality product or services possible.

When quality and service are part of your brand, it is easier to identify when a client is not a good fit for your business.