Listening To Unhappy Clients Can Teach You Important Lessons - OneIMS
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This article originally appeared in Forbes. Read the original here.


As agency owners, we often think we know exactly how to run our business. When a client relationship goes wrong, we might think it was just a bad fit or a crazy customer with unrealistic expectations. While that may sometimes be true, there’s a lot to learn from a client who decides to end their relationship with your agency.

Here are just a few of the things you can learn from unhappy clients.

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Your Processes May Be Weak

Processes are key to consistent, quality work. When a process is broken or vulnerable, it’s easy for it to come crumbling down with just a little push. If any process within your organization or deliverables is weak, it’s very likely that something can go wrong when a client operates differently or has a different structure than you’re used to. 

At our agency, we strive to review our processes regularly to ensure we can identify potential weak points. Clients can often bring light to a vulnerable process that needs to be addressed. That’s why we take the time to review every client concern; every moment spent on strengthening your process is worth it. 

You Need Help Managing Expectations

Unfortunately, we often see clients leave because their expectations were unrealistic. While some clients can certainly have completely unrealistic expectations when it comes to timelines, deliverable or results, it’s important to understand where their expectations went awry. Did you sell them on something too good to be true just to get the sale? Was there a lack of communication between your sales team and your execution team? Did your execution team fail to keep their expectations in check?

Every client relationship is different but managing expectations is critical. Whether it’s a lack of communication or clear deliverables, an outgoing client can open up your eyes to better communication and how you set expectations. At our agency, this has helped our sales team select better prospects. Any prospect with overly high expectations in the sales process will only be a problem in the future. So rather than put our entire team under stress for a client who won’t be around for long, we’d rather focus on those who are invested and have a realistic expectation of what will be achieved during established timelines.

Your Communication Is Not Sufficient

A common reason clients decide to leave an agency is because they felt there was not enough communication. This can certainly creep up in the agency world where many things happen behind the scenes. Strategy, planning, testing, project management and analysis are just a few of the things that are part of every campaign, but the client seldom sees each of these aspects.

We’ve seen this happen in our agency. That said, we also know that time is limited and we can’t expect account managers to report every little aspect of a campaign to a client. To support more efficient and consistent communication, we’ve created automated, basic weekly reporting in addition to personalized communication on campaign progress and initiatives. That has helped us keep clients up to date with campaign performance and campaign initiatives without draining our resources.

Losing a client is by no means a good experience. However, you might learn valuable lessons from taking the time to talk to them and hear them out. You never know, you might owe future clients to a client you lost!

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Written By Solomon Thimothy

Solomon Thimothy is co-founder of OneIMS. He began his career in marketing over ten years ago with a focus on helping businesses grow their online presence and thrive in a digital world. Follow him on twitter at

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