How can we keep your business?


For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on upgrading the services we receive from one of our key vendors. But after learning that what we needed would cost far more than our budget, I began looking for a new vendor. Several times during this process, I stated very clearly to the existing supplier that we’re thinking of moving to a different provider. Aside from reminding me to give them notice prior to cancellation, they made no attempt to retain our account.

This is rather shocking to me. When a customer tells you they are looking elsewhere, and they give you a credible reason for it, you should respond by asking one simple question: “How can we keep your business?” Or you might phrase it a bit differently, e.g. “Is there anything we can do that would make you stay with us?” Most customers will respond honestly to questions like these, since all else equal, it’s easier to stay with the current provider than switching to a new one.

Granted, it may be impossible to meet the customer’s requests, or they may be better served by someone else who has a different business model. But if you don’t ask the question, you’ll never know what they actually wanted. And from the customer’s perspective, if a vendor can’t be bothered to ask why you’re thinking of switching, you’re probably better off without that vendor anyway.