Offboarding 101: How to Gracefully Part with a Client

By | October 20, 2016
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Client-OffboardingIt’s the absolute worst part of agency life; it’s the he-who-must-not-be-named of the marketing profession.

Losing a client, however, is sometimes inevitable.

Maybe the client wasn't a long-term fit for your custom services, perhaps the business was facing its own fiscal troubles, or in some cases, it couldn’t handle growth gracefully. Whatever the reason, agencies must have a plan of action to manage client churn.  

With the right offboarding strategy, your hard work won’t go to waste. Ensure your former client can access and utilize foundational work and key campaign documents. Best-case scenario, your client contact can maintain the marketing program and might eventually return to your agency when the time is right. 

Below are six steps to structure the offboarding process.

1. Close the loop on services owed and rendered.

First, regardless of your process, refer back to the original contract and determine what’s owed to you or the client. Does he or she pay for services in advance of their delivery? Is there an early-cancellation condition?

Once resolved, clearly communicate any remaining services or amount owed to conclude the partnership. Now that you’ve covered your bases financially, you can provide other helpful resources. 

2. Provide easy access to key campaign documents.

Take inventory of all strategic documents delivered over the course of the partnership. Create a running list of documents, including links or attachments for easy reference, and annotate those that are must-haves on a daily basis. This list might include a monthly GamePlan, content calendar, media database and buyer personas, among others. 

Also provide all portal logins (username / password) that the agency utilized during the partnership—even if you didn’t set up the accounts.  

3. Offer a status update on all projects underway.

Flag any projects or campaigns currently in the works. If you provide blogging services, draft a list of headlines that have been approved with a status note (e.g. outlined, drafted, etc.). For PR, keep the client in the loop on all recent media communications and let key media personnel know who to contact for future stories. 

If there are other weekly or daily undertakings that could fall through the cracks (like social media activity), offer suggested next steps during the transition to maintain momentum. And finally, be sure to make clients aware of any running paid campaigns, including daily budget, related strategy documents and instructions to turn off the ads if necessary.

4. Draft a list of all active workflows.

Loop more than one contact in on published workflows in your marketing automation system. To make the most of lead generation efforts, consider appointing someone to check in on a weekly basis, and follow up with new contacts as needed. And, if the content is not evergreen, emphasis a campaign end date to avoid stale (or outdated) email marketing.

5. Ask for feedback.

When delivering all of the above resources, request a quick offboarding call to answer any final questions and discuss overall sentiment toward your agency’s services. Openly elicit feedback on what was done right and what could have been done better. Use the experience to advance your team in a positive, productive way.   

6. Say thank you.

Don’t forget to show your appreciation with a simple thank you. If you haven’t, connect with your contact(s) on social media, and be open to maintaining a constructive, helpful relationship. After all, ultimate success is often tied to the strength of our relationships.

 What would you add to this list? Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below. 

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Indri Rizal.