You just received that dreaded call. A longstanding client has decided to leave your agency. This call is never easy, regardless of the reason. It may be that your client has no control over the matter. For example, perhaps the company has been bought by a larger company and now needs to move to its new vendor.

How can you ensure that you and your client part ways as amicably as possible?

Learn Your Client’s Plan of Action

Stay calm, cool, and collected, and be sure to ask your client these important questions:

  • What is your timetable for departure?
  • Will you be stopping all services at once, or will you phase them out gradually?
  • What do you need from us in regard to final billing?
  • Have you reviewed the terms of our contract, and do you have any questions about your financial obligations to our agency?
  • What do you or your new vendor in the way of final reporting/metrics/analytics from us for the services we have provided.

If your client has difficulty answering any of these questions, offer your insight to help make the transition as easy as possible.

Be sure to ask your client for feedback. Regardless of the situation, an exit interview is always the best time to receive honest assessment of your team’s performance from a client perspective. Welcome the comments, regardless of how difficult they may be to hear. Their opinion will help you strengthen your relationships with other clients and elevate your agency’s overall quality of work.

Keep Records of Services

Refer to your agency’s records and be sure to document the services you have provided for your client. This is important because down the road, you may once again have an opportunity to work with either the client or your point of contact. Keeping a record of the client relationship is not only helpful for future reference, it will also give you leverage over the competition whenever a new opportunity arises.

End on a Positive Note

Do not blame yourself or your team. Sometimes, circumstances out of your control will cause these situations, whether it is because of cut finances, outside company acquisitions, or other conditions. Placing the blame on yourself or your team can lead to a decrease in morale, which in turn can lead to lower product and/or service quality or even adversely affect future client relationships.

Remember to be cordial and professional in all communications with the client throughout this tough transition. Do not exhibit any frustration or anger you may feel about the situation when dealing with your client or you may damage the valuable relationship you worked so long to build.

One of the most flattering ways to close your contract with a client is to compliment your contact and the company. A few uplifting professional gestures may include:

  • Writing a positive testimonial of your client’s work on LinkedIn or other professional networking platforms.
  • Writing a letter of appreciation to your point of contact or his/her superior on your work together.
  • Sending a small gift as a thank you if the company has been a longstanding client.
  • Taking your contact out to lunch if you have developed a strong relationship with him/her and your schedule allows.

It is never easy to say goodbye. Yet, if done well, a smooth parting can set you apart from your competition and keep you in good standings with your soon-to-be former client. Your company will be seen as a trusted partner rather than just another vendor.