Anatomy of loss

So my company produces a piece of software called Shipster, which provides small to medium warehouses with courier integration. We’ve been very successful in our first 18 months of trading, going from the 1 client to the current 28 installations that we manage, and we hope all of our customers are happy with the product and service that we supply. I work hard to provide a good product, and even harder to maintain a good level of support.

But yesterday we lost a client.

I’ve worked at other companies where I’ve been heavily invested in the well-being of the company, and I’ve felt big losses before, but nothing is quite like losing your own client. One you worked hard to get, and hard to keep. This client in particular was at the top end of the market we cover, they just about fit into the area we’re in and they decided to take a chance on us instead of the enormous multi-national corporation who runs our main competitor. I was grateful at the time, and I’ve always worked especially hard to keep them happy.

But like all good companies, they have grown and grown, and their plans to push hard into international markets put them out of our reach. At our size we couldn’t hope to compete with the larger player in the market, they have us seriously out-gunned. So looking at what happened, there wasn’t much we could have done. Even with significant amounts of investment we would still need 12 to 18 months of solid development work to even come close to their level of service, and I’m sure that would make our work with the smaller clients suffer.

So why do I feel like I’ve failed somewhere? I don’t think I have, the client was glowing in their praise of us in the phone call they gave us to let us know what was happening. I’ve never had a complaint from them…

I think I just inherently feel that if someone doesn’t want to use us anymore, then there must be something wrong. And that’s a good thing. I don’t take my clients for granted. I want to make sure they never leave us because we’re not taking care of them. I’ve gone over our correspondence over the past year, and there’s nothing there to suggest we made any big mistakes. We’ve gone above and beyond to keep them happy, and there was nothing more we could have realistically done.

This is our first loss… Literally the first client to leave Shipster in a 18 months. But I’m still going to blame myself.