Why clients break up with their agencies

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Agencies and their clients working together is like any relationship. In the beginning, your agency is courting a potential client. You want to show why you’re the best and convince them you’re the agency for them, ensuring long-term client retention. Some potential clients are already taken, others just aren’t interested, and some decide your agency is exactly what they want. Score.

So, you won the client you’ve been wooing for weeks, or months. Now, the real fun begins. There’s a ton of new ideas you and the client have, and everyone is excited about what’s to come. However, in the midst of the work, frustrations begin to peak. The client isn’t responding to your outreach like they used to, or feels you aren’t really listening to them.

What initially began as an enthusiastic partnership is now flooded with professional petty bickering that seems to always begin with, “Per my last email…” You’re trying your best to get the job done, but things just aren’t working out. Why?

Image of man typing furiously on keyboard

As agencies work to enhance their focus on client retention strategies, taking the time to reflect on why clients churn is necessary.

Learn how this agency used data and analytics to eliminate client churn

Poor communication

Clear and concise communication —  at all times —  is a must between you and your client. If you’re noticing poor communication, this may be an indicator of underlying issues. Maybe there’s a misunderstanding between you and your client about the direction of a current campaign. Perhaps the client wants to understand more about your agency’s processes and how results are achieved. Or, you aren’t getting the feedback you need from your client to progress. Regardless of what the details are, miscommunication could send your client running to a competitor.

Like any relationship, combatting communication problems starts at the beginning:

  • Set realistic expectations for you and the client.
  • Create a detailed plan that proves you understand your client’s pain points.
  • Incorporate tangible action items and goals that will be accomplished throughout various stages of your plan. (Asana is a great tool to help with this.)
  • Address the best way for you and your client to present questions, concerns, and constructive criticism.
  • Actively communicate with your client on a regular basis as you carry out the plan and get those results.

In every relationship, no matter what’s going on, at some point you have to talk about it. And it won’t always be easy, but it could help ensure long-term client retention.

You’re broke

Alright, maybe you’re not totally broke. But money is extremely tight and your client is starting to realize it. This is a huge red flag for a client — if they feel like your agency is struggling financially, it’s only a matter of time before they start talking with an agency they feel is more financially secure.

Money problems can create a serious lack of focus. It’s almost impossible to do your best work if you’re worried about keeping a business afloat. Struggling to manage basic tasks because you’re stretched too thin financially is not a situation you want to be in.

If things get too dire, you could end up desperate and trying to penny-pinch for every little service. Or worse, having to let go of employees who helped establish and grow relationships with your clients — either of these problems could be a breaking point when it comes to client retention.

Healthy finances are a hard, non-negotiable item. Establish a strong financial foundation and make informed financial decisions for you and your client’s future.

Lack of results

One of the best ways to defeat churn rate and improve client retention is showing your client real results. Your overall goal shouldn’t be to promote brand awareness, increase web traffic, or even boost customer conversions — it should be to prove your worth to clients.  

Read about how data-driven marketing makes your agency indispensable

Agencies are constantly struggling to find the best way to show how their work has a positive impact on a client’s business. If your client can’t concretely see that you’re contributing effective results, why should they stay? They’ll realize there’s no value in the relationship.

Measuring actionable metrics and capturing key data is the challenge agencies have to overcome to get the results clients want to see. Call tracking has become a popular tool agencies are using to help deliver data-driven results.

With tools like keyword-level tracking, CallRail is able to help agencies thoroughly understand how online and offline campaigns are performing and yielding conversions. This enables agencies to achieve total attribution and show your clients hard evidence that proves you’re a worthy asset.

It’s not you, it’s them

Every agency has at least one former client they don’t miss. (They’re the professional equivalent of your crazy ex.) This client made everything about working together beyond difficult. From the beginning you may have felt the client could be problematic, but you dismissed it because you felt that it was worth the challenge. You were wrong.

Clients that create unnecessary problems for you and your team are an epic fail. If it takes longer to accomplish tasks because of their difficult demeanor, this is ultimately a loss for your agency. And allocating too much time and too many resources toward the wrong client can mean you’re depriving another client of the care and attention they need.

Don’t overexert yourself for clients like this. Agencies will try to make it work with toxic clients for tons of reasons, but if you end up bleeding time and resources, you’ll eventually realize they’re not worth it. And no matter how hard you work to please an unsatisfiable client, they’re most likely going to end up churning anyway. Take initiative and recognize when a client simply isn’t a good fit — you deserve better anyway.

They’ve outgrown you

This is a difficult realization to confront, but it happens. Your client may have reached the point where they’re able to sustain their own solution. It’s unfortunate for you, but this doesn’t have to be a total loss.

If your client is cutting ties because they’ve outgrown your agency, use this opportunity to establish a referral partnership. They might not need you anymore, but there’s plenty of other prospects that will. Ask them if you can use their growth as an example to create a compelling customer testimonial.

This isn’t like the other breakups, and it doesn’t have to end negatively. It’s all about perspective — you can view it as losing a client, or gaining an ally that can help bring in new clients. There’s nothing wrong with being friends after the breakup.

Pinpointing why a client left can help your agency develop client retention ideas. But first, you have to take the time to thoroughly assess your client breakups. Reducing churn requires analyzing what you’ve done in the past to enhance what you’ll do in the future. And like any breakup, closure is best achieved through reflection.

If you’re struggling with churn, look for the real reason behind the breakup. There are valuable lessons in every client relationship that could reveal beneficial insight on making better business decisions and ensuring long-term client retention.

Interested in seeing how call tracking can help your agency establish client relationships that last? Try a 14-day free trial of CallRail or request a personalized demo.

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