Client poaching is a serious threat for businesses. But you can deal with it.Vikash Kumar
Employees are partners in the growth story of businesses. However, if any of your key employees decides to poach a client, they can actually cause significant damage to your business. In most cases, client poaching is mostly done by ex-employees.
This threat is very real and can be devastating for the growth of any company, especially smaller businesses where accounts are smaller and clients are more price conscious. Such instances can also compromise the data security of your company. However, it can be prevented if you take special care in your business, especially during the onboarding process.
Here are four strategies you can use to deal with this situation.
1. Use a preventive mechanism
This is important, but avoid enforcing so many preventative measures as that would create an unnecessarily tense atmosphere at the workplace. This can also affect the morale of loyal employees. For example, I once tried to monitor my employee emails and Skype chats to infer hidden meanings, but that did not serve any purpose. Some of the senior employees felt offended and left the company. They feel like monitoring was an insult to their professional loyalty.
Taking preventive measures would be a much better course of action. For example, post a rule that direct client interaction with employees is not allowed unless the employee takes a loyal team lead or another senior person on their team. Also, think about cultivating loyalty among your employees who have been at your company for a long time. You can have a policy offering a special loyalty bonus to employees who stay after a specified period.
2. Prepare a well-drafted agreement
In the real world, preventing client poaching mostly comes down to the terms of the employment agreement. How you can avoid these grey areas so that your business remains protected? Obviously, putting restrictive trade clauses can offer a credible solution, but you need to do more. Spelling out the prohibited activities in your employee handbook would be a good idea. Make sure your employees read them thoroughly once they join the company.
To protect you further, you can also add a clause to the agreement that makes it completely clear that no employee can communicate with clients beyond permissible office hours or for a certain period in the case that they are fired.
3. Establish a personal rapport
I was lucky to avoid losing my critical clients because of the personal rapport I had with them. My client made me aware of what was happening with the account, and I was able to take a proactive step. That’s why establishing a personal camaraderie with clients is important.
Ensure your clients identify more with your company than with a particular employee. Talk to them at regular intervals and explain to them the advantages you offer. Also, know their pain points. Make them feel special.
However, some clients may go away because of the promise of a lower fee. Don’t chase after them if they care only about the price and don’t care about how good of a service they’re getting.
4. Differentiate your products and services
Finally, you can avoid this situation by differentiating your products and services from the competition by offering better quality services at the right price. Invest money and time into improving production, sales, and the service delivery process.
Setting up a well-oiled Customer Relationship Management (CRM) department in your organization would be a right step in this direction. That will create more faith among clients for your services and products. They will fully understand that switching loyalties to a non-tested and new vendor means compromising the service quality, and they will never think about leaving you.
On a final note, tackling this situation would be very difficult if the ex-employee has developed a good relationship and perfectly understands the requirements of clients. You can handle this situation by improving your services and offering the most competitive prices.