Sometimes We Lose Customers

Today we're gonna talk about a population of people who don't get much attention: people who have left your company.

When we bring on a new customer or hire a new employee, we tend to invest a ton of time and money into onboarding them. We arrange things like: a kick-off call, swag, welcome drinks, training videos, and check-ins.

But when we lose a customer or employee, nothing happens.

And if these people had a bad experience with our company, they might share their story with other customers, or leave horrible online reviews.

This is a missed opportunity.

By creating an amazing off-boarding experience, our former customers and employees will still love and respect our brand.

And if they love our brand, they’ll become ambassadors for us, even if they aren’t a part of our journey anymore.

I interviewed Joey Coleman, author of Never Lose a Customer Again and future author of Never Lose an Employee Again, to find out: how can we create an amazing off-boarding experience?

Why does off-boarding matter?

Research shows that people are more likely to remember their first and last parts of an experience than the middle.

Think about the first day of university and graduation. Your first ride at an amusement park, and your last. The first mile of a marathon, and the last. Beginnings and endings.

If an employee who’s been working with you for years doesn’t receive any acknowledgment on their last day, they won't leave thinking about the bonus they got 3 years ago.

They'll think about their last, disappointing day working for you.

The most powerful marketing dollars are what your customers and employees say about your brand.

Nothing compares to the unsolicited advocacy of the people who have worked with you.

But beyond business reasons, it’s short-sighted to not give the goodbye that your client or employee deserves.

It’s just the right thing to do.

Create a great off-boarding experience for a client

Some companies who have an off-boarding experience approach it with a self-centered mindset.

This is a mistake.

Imagine I ask Kera, my (fake) former client, to hop on a call. I try to convince her to stay with me. I upsell her. I desperately ask, “What could we have done to make you stay?”

Kera would be more confident in her decision to leave because it’s clear I don’t care about her. I only care about my interests.

Instead, I should be genuinely interested in what Kera is doing next.

“How can I best help you on your journey?”

If I have a SaaS product and Kera is moving to one of my competitors, I should ask:

“What can our team do to help you with the transition? One idea is we can export all your data from our product and give you an organized spreadsheet so it’s an easy one-click upload for you to get started with your new software. Let us know how we can help you on your journey!”

Kera would lose her freaking mind if she got this message!

She might even think,

“Wait, why am I leaving!?”

But regardless, Kera will leave with the feeling of being cared for and will likely speak highly of my company for years to come.

Show your clients that you care about them and want the best for their journeys, even if it doesn’t align with your plans.

Create a great off-boarding experience for an employee

Joey had an entrepreneur friend who we’ll call Bob. Bob’s assistant told him that she was leaving her job to go to grad school.

Bob was pissed.

Joey: Why are you mad?
Bob: There’s no consideration for me…
Joey: Well, what consideration do you have for her?
Bob: We pay her salary.
Joey: Paying someone for their work is neither special consideration nor a gift. It’s a basic requirement of any job. You don’t get “extra credit” for paying people to do the work you hired them to do!

Let's be real: most of your employees are going to leave at some point.

This is not a reason to be upset. It’s usually not personal — people move to a new city, want to work remotely, or crave growth in different skill sets.

Celebrate the season you had together. Acknowledge their role and praise them for what they contributed to your team.

Then ask about their personal lives:

“Where are you going? How can I support you in your career moving forward? If you ever want to come back, we will gladly welcome you with open arms.”

Have any success stories of this going well?

McKinsey & Company is a consultancy company. Their employees typically work like crazy for a few years and then get hired at Fortune 500 companies.

Guess what their roles are at these new companies?

Executives, directors, and leaders that hire McKinsey & Company consultants.

McKinsey + Company isn’t angry when someone leaves.

Instead, they see it as having ambassadors who work in-house for other companies that will bring them back more business.

Companies like McKinsey are happy to invest in their employees because it’s the best thing to do both as both business leaders and humans.

Here’s a joke that Joey told me to illustrate this point.

CFO: What if we train our employees and they leave?
CEO: Well, what if we don’t train them and they stay?