Blog: What to do if your star account manager leaves
According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of payrolled workers is now at a record 29.7 million.
Unemployment is back down to pre-pandemic levels and redundancies continue to drop month on month, as the number of job vacancies in turn continues to rise.
It’s not a surprise, then, that employee churn in certain sectors, regions, and within some talent pools has been accelerated.
Aside from the impact it has on the employing company, though, there is another, relatively unspoken side effect of employees moving roles: clients moving with them.
Looking after customers from the start
1. Make it easy to stay
The investment of time into building business relationships can be one of the top reasons clients leave when their account contact does. Particularly if they or you have a specialism, they may not want to go through the process of onboarding a brand-new contact all over again.
Think about having multiple contacts attend the first few client meetings so that you have more than one person in your business who knows them inside out – and request the same on their side.
2. Define joint goals
Agreeing on some shared objectives and goals during onboarding ensures that your companies are aligned at a strategic level, not a personal one.
The more you can keep collaboration at the heart the harder it will be for clients to leave.
3. Monitor the relationship
A disengaged client is one who won’t miss you when you’re gone. Try to maintain regular touchpoints, share valuable advice, content, and insight, and focus on making your services business-critical.
4. Embed deeper
It’s likely that multiple people within your clients’ business actually use or are affected by the product/service you provide. It’ll be harder for a customer to switch providers if several people in their business value what you – specifically and uniquely – offer.
Damage control when needed
5. Identify flight risks
Hopefully, you have records of all the customers, projects, accounts – whatever – assigned to the departing individual.
Evaluate each against either a customer satisfaction matrix or other flight-risk criteria, built out of the things you know about why customers leave you, what they expect, and your USPs.
Here’s an example of the type of questions you could ask to identify risky customers or gaps in your levels of service.
6. Be honest
You may want to notify any affected clients that they’ll be transitioning contacts in advance. This is especially true if you’re part-way through an active project or if the relationship is particularly valuable or intensive. This can be done in writing or via meeting, and it may or may not involve their current and new contact, dependent on the situation.
It’s important to keep this benefit led; your aim is to retain the customer, not throw a leaving celebration for your team member.
Introduce new contacts as equal if not better, remind customers of the benefits of working with you, reiterate company strengths, and present it as positive for you and them while remaining courteous about your soon-to-be ex-employee.
7. Add value or compensate
If the customer is very valuable or at a particularly high risk of leaving you may want to sweeten the deal by ‘upgrading’ them to a senior account manager, by offering trial periods, or access to other loyalty rewards or upgrade options.
8. Consider legal protection
There is a reason many people have long notice periods, are assigned to ‘gardening leave’, or have non-compete clauses built into contracts.
Ultimately you need to protect your client relationships, data, and intellectual property, and there can be legal repercussions in some instances where that trust is broken.
In the most extreme cases, departing employees steal or destroy data, approach ex-clients to ‘poach’ them, advise contacts to lie to get out of contracts, and systematically work to defame people and companies they leave. Unfortunately, there is no real way of knowing if someone may be that way inclined, so you could argue it’s best to assume they will and protect your business accordingly.
Planning is key
Of course, the easiest thing to do here would be to avoid staff churn altogether but that just isn’t realistic.
Plan for it to happen, take the view that your time together has prepared the employee for their next challenge, and take the opportunity to improve your business relationships and service quality if you can.
Attracting new customers and keeping your existing ones happy
Tips to turn to when the old ways of attracting new customers are no longer working