When an account manager leaves your company, you have to move quickly to retain your existing clients. What you say is as important as what you do.
Here is a checklist of things you should say — and not say — compiled with the help of Los Angeles-based career coach and HR consultant David Couper and Philadelphia-based attorney Michael Greco, partner with Fisher & Phillips’ Employee Defection and Trade Secrets Practice Group.
What to say:
Keep it vague.
Simply say that the outgoing employee is no longer going to be handling the account. It’s ok to say that the employee has left.
You can’t go wrong focusing on the positive, whether you are talking about the outgoing employee, or what the company offers.
Ways to improve.
Ask your client how your company can improve.
Emphasize your company’s strengths. You’ll want to note that you can offer longevity and security, unlike a former employee who is hanging out a shingle and working alone. Point out that you have support staff in place and that more people are involved in the account than just the account manager.
The new employee.
Emphasize the new account manager’s unique qualities.
The old employee.
Say something positive about the outgoing employee, even if there was a problem.
What not to say:
Don’t tell the client the details of the employee’s exit. This includes problems with the employee, character flaws or other criticisms.
Whether talking about the outgoing employee or your company’s ability to deliver, be honest about the situation.
Don’t forget to treat your clients like new accounts. They may have established personal relationships with the outgoing employee and you want to remind them why they came to your company in the first place.
More on details.
Don’t get pressured into giving details about the exit. The client may pursue relentlessly the reasons for the separation, but you could land yourself in a defamation lawsuit or some other legal action if you succumb to the pressure.
The non-compete contract.
While it’s tempting to share with the client that there is a non-compete contract in place with the former employee, and it’s ok to share that information from a legal standpoint, it may not be the best choice from a business standpoint. Remember, positive statements will reflect better on you and your organization.