You have worked extremely hard to build a client base. The reason you’re able to stay in business especially in this economy is because of loyal customers.
They have weathered the storm with you, clients for life; with the exception of that one very special (diva) client who you have spoiled with your accessibility to meet their need, day, night, weekends, your vacations. You are always available to meet their urgent (mostly non-urgent) requests for help.
The problem is your company is growing and as the president you must delegate previous responsibilities to management in order to focus on the growth and success of your firm.
Realizing the impact that this growth spurt could have on some or all of your existing clients, you craft a personalized email to explain the company’s changes in roles and responsibilities, including project oversight.
In spite of your efforts, there is one client who simply is not adapting well to the changes. On multiple occasions you have explained the circumstances to your client but they are insistent upon you handling their projects and will not hear of anyone else overseeing their interests.
The client is becoming increasingly rude to your team members and unwilling to accept that your company is evolving.
You ponder on the client’s behavior in search of how to best handle the situation without losing your most loyal client.
A face-to-face lunch meeting is your last-ditch effort to resolve the unease your client is feeling about someone else handling their business affairs.
You begin the conversation by thanking the client for their loyalty and commitment to the partnership that you both formed years ago. You go on to explain that you are just as invested in their success today as you were at the beginning of the relationship.
A long pause — you ask the client what you could do to ease their uncertainty during this transitional period. The feeling of resistance and uncertainty begins to dissipate as you explain the transition and direction moving forward, and, how your team members mirror the same work ethic and values you bring to all your client partnerships.
Immediately after the conversation, the client expresses their gratitude and sense of resolve, and assurance that your staff will help to propel them to the next phase of their goals.
Change is difficult no matter who you are, it is especially challenging for clients who have come to depend on your ability to take them to the next level.
It’s important to have a plan in place for coaching your clients through transitional periods of growth.
While technology is a wonderful tool for connecting, collaborating, and getting work done, sometimes a face-to-face is more appropriate, especially when dealing with sensitive matters like changes in leadership or management.
Firing a (diva) client who is uncertain during transitional growth periods is probably not the best resolution.
After-all, they were there in the beginning.
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