5 Ways to Cope with a Client's Death
During my tenure as a nurse, I’ve pumped on a lot of chests in an effort to perform Basic Life Support (BLS). Some efforts were successful, while others were ineffective. I’ve even performed post mortem care on countless patients, so coming face to face with death in my professional career was nothing foreign to me. However, when I transitioned into entrepreneurship, death never crossed my mind. All I thought about was success and prosperity. Never did I think that death would rear its ugly head again in my entrepreneurial walk — unfortunately it did.
In addition to running my copywriting business, I run a fashion e-commerce store. With the advice of my mentors, I’ve built a community and a decent following on my social media channels. And since I handle all of my social media feeds, I reply directly to all customers’ inquiries and comments. This is actually the part of the business that I love. I enjoy interacting with my followers. I even comment on their pages (of course I keep a professional, but engaging tone).
I’ve grown to know a lot of my repeat customers and devoted followers. Seeing them on my timeline is something l look forward to. We laugh, swap memes and have lengthy discussions when I post my “Question of the Day” posts. You can say that they have become a staple in my entrepreneurial journey.
A few months back, my heart felt like it shattered into a million pieces when I learned that one of my repeat customers, also an entrepreneur, was transferred from a hospital to hospice care. I knew her cancer had resurfaced, but I didn’t know how cataclysmic it was. She always kept a smile on her face in selfies, even the ones where she wore head scarves to camouflage her bald head. We never met in person nor spoke on the phone, but we made plans to meet up for brunch when she came to New York City (She was based in Dallas, Texas).
I think all entrepreneurs can relate to those blah days when you haven’t made a sale nor contracted a new client. It might be a coincidence or divine intervention, but on days when I felt like logging off, I’d get a notification that my now deceased customer/online friend, posted a photo rocking one of my creations. She always made it her own and would profess to all her followers how much she loved my line. One can’t pay for that sort of word-of-mouth promotion.
When she passed away I had to come to grips that I was mourning for someone I didn’t even know personally. However, the hurt was real. I wasn’t alone. She had hundreds of comments on her last Instagram post from people who also confessed that although they never met her before they were truly sadden by her death.
You might be reading this thinking I was into deep; that if I sell apparel or tote bags that I shouldn’t have this sort of deep connection with my customers. Sometimes the connections you make are bigger than making a sale or closing a deal.
If you ever find yourself in a predicament where you lose a client or customer, here are some tips to help you cope:
Acknowledge that you’re grieving: Doctors and nurses lose patients all the time. Even lawyers, publicists & agents to the stars lose clients, so you’re not alone if you genuinely feel sad about the death of a customer/client. If you need to cry, vent, or talk to your therapist, go ahead. There’s nothing wrong with grieving over someone you’ve grown to know and admire.
Pay homage: If your deceased client/customer’s family permits, pay homage on your social media feed or on your website. If you own bakery, you can name a cupcake in his or her honor. You decide how you want to pay tribute.
Donate to a cause that was near and dear to your client/customer’s heart. In my case, I donated to a Go Fund Me set up for her children.
Pay your respects: If possible, attend your client/customers’ funeral or memorial service. Paying your respects might provide the closure that you need.
Continue to build dynamic relationships: Losing someone is never easy, but this shouldn’t prevent you from building dynamic relationships with your other clients/customers. If you and your deceased client/customer shared a genuine respect for each other, he or she would want to see you and your business thrive.
If you have other tips or had a similar experience, please leave a comment.