A sales manager responded to a recent article I wrote which examined the importance of finding out why a customer was unresponsive. He noted that vital lessons can also be found in discovering why a customer decides to leave all together.

The Exit Interview

This reminded me of the effort I once made to follow up on the loss of a long-term client. We had received a nice letter from a customer of 20 years advising us that he had decided to switch suppliers. He didn’t state his reason for leaving and expressed his appreciation for our years of service. With a letter like that, I wanted to know why he decided to leave.

I went to see the owner personally in search of an answer. While surprised by my visit, he was just as gracious in person as he was in his letter. His departure from our company was based on one unfortunate experience. The owner explained that he had decided to leave because the counter sales representative at one of our stores was rude and dismissive when he visited. I was shocked, very apologetic, and told him how much I appreciated the information. To my surprise, because of my visit and sincere contriteness, he decided to stay with us. When I got back to the office, I asked the store manager and responsible rep to visit the owner with their own apologies.

As a result of this incident, my company established a policy of interviewing all exiting clients. Don’t let your customers leave without explaining why.

Ask Why Immediately

I have found that a customer is most likely to leave because of something the company has done or failed to do. When a customer leaves, act directly. Ask WHY immediately and thank them for taking the time to answer your questions. I have learned many great lessons through exit interviews, fixed glaring issues, and even succeeded in getting clients to return.

Get tips and tricks like the above in The Art of Sales books. Or subscribe to the FREE monthly articles here.