You undoubtedly give good service to new and current customers, but how do you treat the ones who are switching to your competitor? If you treat exiting customers right and leave them with a positive impression, you may eventually win them back.

"When customers choose not to renew their contracts, we make sure we finish with 100% service or more," says Dave Pasek, president of Service Performance Corp., a San Jose, Calif., janitorial company with 1,000 employees. Supervisors and account managers continue their client communications and weekly walk-through inspections, and the company coordinates with its successor to ensure a smooth transition. "It's a small business community, so reputation is important," says Pasek. One customer, who selected a lower bid, retracted the cancellation after realizing that the future replacement company wasn't showing the same level of interest. Pasek points out that it's hard for customers to admit they made a mistake by canceling because of price. Finishing the job with exceptional performance makes it easier for them to come back a year or two later.

The John Akridge Companies, a real-estate business, in Washington, D.C., sends potted plants to customers who relocate their offices to other commercial office developments. "Exit interviews indicate that customers are pleased with our services but choose new facilities to meet their expansion needs," says Amy McBroom, director of communication. "Our gift is a token of our appreciation for their business and serves as a permanent reminder of our high level of service. We've had customers return to our properties because they haven't received the same level of service elsewhere."

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing