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3 mistakes to avoid if you want to keep your customers

It hurts when you lose a customer doesn’t it? Particularly if they were a good customer. How do you avoid losing customers? This blog highlights three mistakes that can trip you up and what you can do about it.

A client of mine has just sacked their bookkeeping service for making three mistakes which could all have been avoided if they had managed things better.

Not only has this company lost a client, but they’ve also left someone who is extremely disgruntled and will be expressing his displeasure far and wide. And I will never recommend them to anyone else.

The mistakes they made:

1. Put in a huge invoice that was four times the amount expected

This was done with no explanation, no forewarning or a breakdown of the invoice.

It can be tempting to add a few extras to your invoice. But I would highly advise against it. You will lose all the trust your client had in you.

But, if you are doing extra work for them which you aren’t charging for, then you do need to have a conversation with them.

How to avoid upsetting clients with an invoice with fees they weren’t expecting

– Don’t send in an unexpectedly high invoice without warning!

– If you need to charge them more than what was agreed, have a conversation with them beforehand to explain what needs to be done and then give them the choice as to whether or not the work is done. Get their approval confirmed in writing

– Give a clear breakdown of your work and include a timesheet if necessary so they can see what you have done – here’s an example of one of mine from earlier this year. It doesn’t need to be complicated. I did this in excel.

There are a whole raft of timesheet apps out there – this article outlines 10 of them if you have to track time for your clients and don’t like excel.

– Make sure you have clear payment terms up front with your clients that they have agreed – and which covers charges over the standard fees.

2. Inexperienced people were doing the work

Not only were they inexperienced, but they had about five or six people dipping in and out of the accounting package.

The result was the supplier didn’t have anyone who really understood the client’s business.  This number of people might have been fine if this was over a 12 month period, but this was in the space of a couple of months. And again this might have been ok if the people were just uploading invoices, but they weren’t. They were allocating invoices incorrectly. For example, my invoices to the client were coded under three different expense headings making it impossible to track expenses accurately. There was no account manager overseeing the account.

How to avoid this

There’s nothing wrong with multiple people working on one client and in fact, it’s how you scale. But…

– Let the client know in advance who will be doing the work if it’s not you

– Have one person responsible for the account

– Train your staff properly on how to do the job

– Have the right processes in place which will ensure everyone is working in a consistent manner.

– Make sure there are clear client notes so that anyone can pick up the work. This will make it appear seamless to the client.

– There should be some form of quality checking. This is because when the work involves financial transactions or other key areas, getting these wrong could impact negatively on your client.

3. Limited or no communication

Not only was there very little communication, but they also made mistakes which they didn’t own up to and which the client is now having to undo.

How to avoid this

– Keep in regular contact with your client, updating them with where you’re at. Find out at the outset how often the client would like to be communicated with and by what method (phone, email etc.)

– If you don’t understand what you are doing, don’t try and fudge it. Ask and get clarification.

– If you make a mistake – own up immediately and tell them what you’re doing to rectify it.

Any one of these mistakes could result in you losing a client.

Can you risk the damage to your reputation?

What other things have your suppliers done that have resulted in you walking away?

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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.