My Client Ghosted Me…Again: What Would Lu Do?
I recently received this message from a listener:
I have a client that I met 3 years ago and did a ton of work selecting fabrics for her window treatments and blinds as well. The job was worth over $45k. Nothing came to fruition. Three years later, the client contacted me and apologized profusely for wasting my time, but explained that her mother had passed away and wondered if I would consider working with her again.
“Of course,” I said, and now I have invested another 15 hours helping this client with re-selecting blinds and re-affirming decisions made three years ago on drapery. And yet again, I’m facing another blackout in terms of getting back to me, despite a few texts and a voicemail checking in to make sure she was ok.
I am spitting nails and wonder if it’s me or I should just walk away. So frustrated. What would Lu do?
When Clients Ghost You
Being ghosted by a client can be one of the most frustrating experiences of being a business owner. You sink in time, put forward your best customer service skills, and go above and beyond to help, only to be left in the dark.
Many business owners then do exactly what Carol is doing here—they start to wonder if they are the problem.
Now, this particular scenario is a little bit different because the client reached back out, and history repeated itself. I have no idea why this woman would do this a second time.
My inclination is always to give the benefit of the doubt—especially because she did come back with her tail between her legs and seemed sincere.
If I take a step back and think of possible ulterior motives, nothing comes to mind here. There’s no leverage or negotiation that would come from this—nothing that gives her an upper hand or helps her out. In fact, her time was wasted too.
That leads me to assume the best of her and believe that something else is the reason for ghosting. It’s not Carol’s fault or an indicator of anything wrong with the relationship.
Do You Deserve an Explanation?
Just because I’m assuming the best does not mean I would let this client off the hook. After all, intentional or not, the old adage applies: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
Carol deserves an answer, especially with this being the second time.
What Lu Would Do: Persistent Check-Ins
If this were me, I would check in, unapologetically—weekly, monthly, and quarterly—until I got an answer.
That communication of course would be kind and respectful. The goal wouldn’t be to punish or isolate, but to get an answer.
My first messages would simply be a check-in. If I continued to not hear back, then I would adjust accordingly.
Here is an example of a series of messages I would send in this situation:
“Hey, how are you? I’m following up on the quote I emailed you. Did you receive it? Do you have any questions, or are you ready to place your order?”
“Hi, it’s me checking in again. I hope everything is ok. Please let me know if you have any questions about the quote. If we place the order now, we can have everything ready by Thanksgiving for you.”
I would also add in a hard copy mailed to the house:
“Hope you are ok! I wanted to be sure that you received this quote that I emailed you on [original date].”
My next email would escalate a little bit, expressing concern and remaining professional:
“Ok, so now you have me a bit concerned. Are you and your family ok? I know when we tried to do this last time, your dear mom passed during our meetings, and not hearing from you again has me worried for you. Please, I certainly understand if the window treatments are on hold for whatever reason but I’d like to know if you are ok and of course to let you know if I can be of help in any way, don’t hesitate to ask. But please, let me know what’s going on, ok?”
I would then give it a little bit of time and follow up again:
“It’s been a few months since my last message and you cross my mind often. Are you ok?”
“I thought I’d let you know I thought of you again today and decided to act on it. I’d love to hear from you.”
Control What You Can, Let Go of the Rest
Beyond checking back in, there isn’t much you could do in this situation. You can’t force the client to respond or place the order.
All you can do is be supportive on the chance that another tragedy befell her. (On that note, I would also Google her name and the word obituary. That might sound morbid, but over the years, I have had a few customers pass away between placing the order and installation. Life happens.)
It’s important to remember in this situation to stay positive, stay professional, and stay persistent. Don’t let your frustration interfere with your reputation and the way you run your business.
Most importantly, remember that you are entitled to an answer, but that you might not receive one.
Ultimately, you can’t second guess yourself in these situations. Remember that you are a successful business owner who brings an important service to people’s lives.
If you start to let doubt creep in on you because of a client’s actions, you will psych yourself out. Take a step back and don’t let that negativity cloud your judgment or affect the way you view yourself and your business.