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It’s not you, it’s me – the warning signs a client might leave

When a client suddenly cancels their longstanding relationship with you, does it feel like the rug has been pulled from underneath you? Was it a bolt out of the blue? It might feel that way, but in hindsight, when you spend teary nights poring over what might have been, do you think you could have spotted the warning signs?

Even if you had, it might be too late and the damage already done. They might have had enough of your taxation or auditing services – or they have found an offer from another accountancy firm too difficult to resist – but if you are aware of the signs, at least you’re on the front foot and can try and do something about it.

There are classic behaviours that clients display when they are cooling off and it is in your interest to know what to look for. If you are able to identify that behaviour and track patterns, there might – just might – be something you can do to bring them back on side.

Sign one: changes in invoicing behaviour

In your teary state, you might look back over invoicing history to see if there was any sign the relationship was going wrong. You might notice there had been a gradual decline in invoicing levels – a cancellation of one service here, a decline in another there. If you had been able to spot this at the time, you might have been able to turn things around.

Sign two: won’t return your calls

Not answering your calls, finding it difficult to pin them down for meetings. From an account management point of view, if you see a client’s behaviour is colder towards you than it was in the same period last year, it could be a sign they are preparing to break up. Having definitive touch points and tracking client communications will help you to recognise any cooling in their behaviour towards you.

Sign three: change in personality

You might find that your client has changed over this past year. I mean, really changed. You had been dealing with John the old CFO for years, but now Laura has come on board and she could have pet accounting firms she would like to replace your practice with. Identifying changes in personnel and doing what you can to build new bridges with them will stand you in good stead.

These are all signs that you are experiencing client ‘drift.’ In isolation, these signs might not mean that much, but all of them combined should ring alarm bells. The problem is, without a system in place to identify these red flags and relying on a feeling that the accountant dealing with the client might have (or not if they have a heavy work load), then you are acting in the dark.

To learn more about how CRM can help you retain clients and manage risk, read our white paper A Practical Guide to Cross Selling and Upselling or contact one of our team on: +44 118 3030 100