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Client Retention Issues: 12 Warning Signs Your Client Is About To Ditch You

Client Retention. Customer Loyalty.

An agency meets their perfect client – They woo the client with fancy proposals, phone calls, promising results – The client is swept off their feet & hence starts a beautiful story of an agency & their client.

However, as is with every story, there are many obstacles & complications in this one too. The biggest complication is if your client wants to break up with you.

Warning Signs to Look Out For

SEO Agency-Client Relationship

As is with every relationship, an agency’s owner or client manager can innately sense that something is not quite right with the way their client is behaving.

Customer loyalty & customer retention are common issues plaguing agencies in every industry. So here are 12 warning signs that could indicate you might be about to lose a client:

1. Frequent Contract Reference

The client continually refers to the terms of the contract, reminding you of what you are required to provide, timetables, project costs and other details that you already know.

2. Attention Deficit Disorder

The client suddenly starts losing interest in participating in routine interactions such as weekly team calls. When pressed, they don’t apologize failing to dial in, instead claiming that “something suddenly came up”. If they have invested money, then they should be interested in the proceedings. If their interest is lacking, that is a big red flag.

3. Competitor Envy, Part 1

The client sends you a creative program idea developed by a different agency and asks you to “send notes on your thoughts”. It doesn’t always mean that any competitor reference should be doubted. However, most of the times you will be able to make out the intent of the client – whether they genuinely want similar work or if they are giving you such references only to make you uncomfortable.

4. Competitor Envy, Part 2

The client sends you a link to a news article successfully positioned by a competing agency and starts demanding to know why they can’t get the same type of coverage.

5. Deadlines for Deliverables

The client suddenly starts holding you accountable for 7, 10 and 30-day deadlines for deliverables that may or may not be included in your contract. Suddenly, they are very focused on what you have & have not achieved for them.

6. Twitter Traitors

You glance at the list of your client’s Twitter followers and notice your biggest competitors have recently been followed… and followed back! Twitter stalking might sound paranoid, but it might just reveal some important information!

7. Pre-Approval Request

Out of the blue, the client suddenly starts demanding to approve your media pitches before they are sent out.

8. “Rumour Has It”

You start hearing through the industry grapevine that the client is talking to other agencies or worse, bad-mouthing your agency behind your back. Ouch!

9. Cold Shoulder

During phone conversations, the client skips the small talk and can’t seem to get you off the phone fast enough. Once or twice might be a genuine case, but if this is happening in every phone call then you should definitely be worried.

10. Penny Pinching

The client starts making new financial demands, such as asking to slash the monthly retainer by 10% to 15% while keeping the size of your team and the amount of work the same. I strongly suggest you not to do this because it will end up becoming a trend in your relationship.

11. Multiple Personality Disorder

The client suddenly starts having an issue with certain account team members they have worked with in the past and ask you to make changes.

12. Data Raid

The client requests that you send over contact information on all your top social media influencers, including their emails, phone numbers, and social media account information.

How to Make Them Stay

SEO Agency-Client Relationship

It is an uphill task to convince someone to stay on if they have already decided to leave. However, I can give you 2 powerful pointers which you can use to turn the situation around & successfully retain your clients.

1. Give Time & Attention to Your Client

It might sound clichéd & ineffective, but believe me, this trick will do wonders for your agency/client relationship. No matter how dissatisfied your client might be, they will surely appreciate your efforts to better the equation. Go to their office, take them out for a meal, call them or just send thoughtful messages… your client will definitely see that you value them, that will make them feel special & who doesn’t like feeling special! While it might be an underrated tactic, personal attention is still one of the top reasons why clients stay with you. This works even if you have to deliver some bad news to your clients. Try it & you will see the difference.

2. Show Them Measurable/Quantifiable Results

If your client is looking to replace or let go of your agency, then they’ve surely been disappointed by some aspect of your work. There is a disconnect in the sense that they have not seen or are not impressed by what you have done for them. So, what you need to do is give them undeniable proof that your agency has been working towards the success of their company, website & brand. How you can do this is by showing them progress reports of their search rankings, traffic, social reach, conversion etc. Nobody will be able to argue differently if they are presented with progress reports backed by numbers. Bedazzle your clients with this guaranteed tactic & you’ll not have to worry about your client’s loyalty again!

SEO Agencies work so hard at getting clients & trying to keep them happy, they shouldn’t have the added stress of the fear of losing a client. I hope that this article will help you identify clients who might be thinking of leaving you & will also help prevent you from losing them. If the hero always gets the heroine in movies, SEO Agencies should also be able to retain their clients & have that happy ending!

Do let us know if you have faced any such situation & how you tackled them.


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Chandni Panjwani

VP - Business Development at Mondovo

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