Retaining Your Clients, Customers, and Suppliers: Effectively Communicate Change

Recently, my Internet and cable provider sold the servicing of my account to another company. The new company sent me an EMAIL to advise me of this and included a link to another site where I could register. Given the abundance of security warnings about clicking on unsolicited links, I logged onto my current provider’s network and found no notification of the change. This prompted me to call my current provider’s customer service line and talk with a customer service representative. The customer service representative knew nothing about the change and advised me that it was probably a phishing EMAIL and recommended I ignore it.

Several days later I received an EMAIL in my business account from a trusted colleague alerting me that EMAILS to my personal account were bouncing back.

As I reflected on the communication failure of this behemoth communication empire I realized how the failure to communicate and listen to the impact of how change will affect clients, customers, and suppliers can damage those relationships. While this would seem to be common sense, I’m consistently surprised at how often businesses don’t notify me or consider the impact upon my business when they make changes that affect my business. For example:

The impact my accountant’s uncommunicated change in record keeping requirements had on my ability to get her the records needed to complete my taxes.

The impact a client’s change in their payment cycle had on my need for working capital.

The impact a change in a client’s insurance requirements had on my bottom line.

Learning from the mistakes of others, I resolve as a small business owner to:

    1. Consider the impact any change will have on my clients, customers, and suppliers.
    2. Consult with them on any proposed change.
    3. Communicate why the change is necessary and listen if they have suggestions.
    4. Be specific on how and when the change will be made and how they will be affected.

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.


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