Get scripts to follow up with a client who has disappeared in the middle of the project and it's at risk of falling dormant and being canceled.
What’s the comeback for when a client ghosts me or disappears in the middle of a project?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a freelancer or an agency owner, if you run a service-based business and sell projects that span weeks or months, you will eventually deal with clients who disappear in the middle of a project.
Sometimes clients ghost you by accident.
- They are being run ragged by their own business, clients, and life and they lack the capacity to make you or the project you’re working on a priority.
- They see your email in their inbox and have every intention of replying, but because of interruptions, distractions, and unexpected challenges, they put it off. They keep telling themselves they’ll respond tomorrow. But soon a week goes by, then two weeks, then a month, and so on.
- They see your email, text, or message and plan to respond later but then forget. In some cases, they accidentally delete your message or they simply overlook it because it has already been marked read. This scenario is common for people who use their inbox as a to-do list.
Other times clients ghost you on purpose and disappear mid-project because of business troubles or financial troubles and the desire to avoid a hard conversation.
As a business owner, you can put measures in place that prevent clients from disappearing.
- Kicking off projects with a strong onboarding experience that sets expectations and explains your process can set a positive tone for your client relationships and encourage open communication.
- Establishing strategic client touchpoints throughout your projects can also strengthen relationships and not only help you keep a pulse on what’s happening with your projects and clients but also make clients more comfortable broaching tough conversations.
- Including contract terms and conditions that address dormancy (what happens when a project goes dormant) and cancellation (what will cause a project to get canceled and hot it works) and walking clients through those terms and others during the initial kick-off is another way to prevent disappearing clients and create the space for honest conversations.
Unfortunately, even with an onboarding system, client touchpoints, and strong contracts in place, there will be clients who drop off the radar mid-project or play hide and seek with their attention and effort. If the worst does happen and a client disappears, use the scripts below to reach out and follow up.
The check-in script…
Good morning! I’m reaching out because it’s been [AMOUNT OF TIME] and I haven’t heard from you by email or phone.
I’ve sent you a few emails about your project and left you a couple of voicemails too and haven’t received a response and I’m starting to get worried.
Are you okay? Has there been an emergency or unexpected tragedy? This isn’t like you and I really hope the worst hasn’t happened — because that’s where my mind goes.
Can you please get back to me to at least let me know you’re okay?
The follow-up script…
Good morning! I’m reaching out again because it’s now been [AMOUNT OF TIME] and I haven’t heard from you by email or phone. I’ve sent several emails and left multiple voicemails — and haven’t received a response.
Now, I’m not only worried I’m also frustrated.
As of [DATE], your project will meet the dormancy terms of our contract. If that happens, your project will be archived and an additional [FEE AMOUNT] reactivation fee will be required to restart the project and finish it out. If I still don’t hear from you for [LENGTH OF TIME] after that, your project will officially be canceled and our engagement will be over.
I don’t want this to happen to you because extra fees stink!
Can you please get back to me ASAP?
These scripts are just two you’ll find in Confident Comebacks, a collection of professional client service scripts that will help you quickly and confidently craft firm, fair, friendly responses to sticky client situations.
A Reminder About Dormancy And Cancellation
Contract dormancy and cancellation clauses give you a lot of power, and with great power, comes great responsibility.
If you are going to include these terms on your contracts, you must be prepared to enforce them. That means having a standard operating procedure in place that dictates exactly how the process is managed, documented, and carried out. It also means being proactive with project management and client management, providing every opportunity for clients to succeed, and doing everything in your power to prevent projects from reaching this point.
Firing a client should be a last resort.
In case it isn’t clear, sending an email and waiting out an unresponsive client isn’t enough. If a client disappears, you must follow up by every means possible and follow up multiple times — and that means mean sending emails, making phone calls, leaving voicemails, sending social media private messages, sending text messages, or even sending snail mail or a registered letter.
Your clients hired a professional.
Show up and be that professional from start to finish no matter what.