Lessons Learned: What a Lost Client Really Tells You

We’ve all lost clients. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it’s theirs. Sometimes it’s out of everyone’s control.

But no matter the reason, there is something to be learned from a lost client. A system to review lost clients will help keep your business improving and growing.

Exit Interview

Typically done when you leave a job, an exit interview is also a great way to review what went right—and what went wrong—during your working relationship with a client. You’ll want to review:

  • What specific advice, service, or tools worked for them
  • What specific advice, service, or tools did not work for them
  • Any personality conflicts
  • Why they decided to move on moving on

This is not the time to get defensive. Be open to their criticism (if there is any) and use the information to genuinely improve your business.

Be Honest With Yourself

One of the most common reasons for client loss is that the customer is simply not a good fit. Maybe you suspected it when they signed up, or maybe not, but now that they have moved on, ask yourself:

  • What signs were there that they were not the right fit?
  • Why did you ignore any signs that were present?
  • How can you use that information to protect yourself from a less-than-ideal client in the future?

If you can identify a bad match from the start and decline the work (or better still, refer them to another colleague who is a good fit) you’ll find you have a lot less stress in your day-to-day business.


Sometimes, client loss is as simple as a lack of understanding on your client’s part. Do you clearly state:

  • The schedule of calls/emails
  • The timeline for project completion with milestones
  • Review and feedback process
  • Length of your contract
  • Any other project-specific information that can be easily misunderstood (PRO TIP: if you’re struggling to think of what might be misunderstood by a client, run through the entire “onboarding” process with a close friend or family member. Just remember to remove any personal info about your client if you’re using a real project as a test scenario.)

Do you also have a system for staying in touch with a client who has gone quiet? Sometimes all it takes is a quick phone call, email, or text message to get your wayward client back on track. Many business relationships have been salvaged with a simple phone call or email, so if you haven’t heard from a client in a while, pick up the phone.

Here’s the bottom line: Client loss happens. But if you can learn from each client, and use that intel to improve your business, then even a lost client can be turned into new profits.