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Thursday 10 June 2010

Customers: The 6 Main Reasons You Lose Them

We have all lost customers somewhere along the line- sometimes we know how it happened but often it’s difficult to pin point exactly what the reasons are unless the client offers you that information.

There are 6 main reasons that you’ll lose a customer and if you can identify which one (or ones!) are impacting your business simply by taking an honest look at your company’s operation;

1) Not truly knowing your customers

If you don’t fully know who your customers are, if you don’t know what their needs, likes and dislikes are, this could be where your problem lies. Segment your market and ensure your marketing department have done their market research. Although not doing your market research could lead to you losing customers to competitors, likewise doing it could put you WAY ahead!....you’d be surprised how many companies don’t bother to do it. More than that...get to know your customers personally and on an individual basis over a coffee, lunch, a sports match, whatever.

2) “Overpromise and under deliver”

When a client asks when you will get back to them with that proposal don’t try to impress them by stating a quick turn-around time. If you promise your customer anything, whatever happens you must fulfil that promise. If you don’t, the trust will be lost forever. Even if you’re sure you can get it done in super quick time, don’t be tempted to tell them that - you never know what might come up. ‘Proof is in the pudding’ and if you give a reasonable time period and deliver when you say then that ‘delivery on a promise’ could well be a lot more than what many of your competitors are doing!

3) Poor customer service

It’s likely that all of your competitors say that they offer “great customer service” but do they really? Can they back it up? Ensure your customer service advisors are highly skilled - they shouldn’t just be friendly - they need to be knowledgeable and trained in dealing with problems too...

How you go about customer service in your business will be down to the nature of your business but whether you’re B2B or B2C you will need to make sure your customer service is tip top because after all....customers spend money with you....you need to look after them! Continue to offer new methods of customer service, such as communication through Twitter, and always be thinking about how you can help your clients out.

4) Ignoring Loyalty

If you want to improve customer retention REWARD THEM. Make them feel special and show them how appreciative you are of their business. Don’t just see them as a number or another sales figure. Rewarding them can be as simple as offering an exclusive discount or a free product for every x amount of products they buy. On the other hand, Ignoring loyalty could be a ‘death wish’ for your business; the cost of getting new clients on board is way greater than maintaining the ones you have. Be smart about customer retention.

5) Inconsistency in your service or products

When people buy they want to feel that they’ve made the right decision and they like to know what they are getting. Delivering something to them superbly the first time is great but the customer will really pay attention to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th times where they will reassess if they made the right decision...and may decide if they come back for more.

Unfortunately for businesses, customers are far more likely to remember the times you get it wrong than the times you get it right, so make sure you get it right every time! Whilst fast food chains might not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, let’s face it, you know what you’re getting!

6) Constantly trying to sell to them

Don’t annoy your customer with marketing material that is really going to turn them off. Some well directed marketing that really adds value and pin-points what the customer wants can go a long way but this has to be well thought out and well timed. As the years go on people are getting more and more intolerant of frequent messages. Receiving a message every day about a new product or service or how they can “save money by purchasing today!” will switch customers off. At worst...yes you’ve guessed it...you’ll lose them.

Over all, when you lose a customer, yes it can be wounding, but find out why. Often by asking and identifying the problem you’re at least in a position to turn it around. Locate the problem, act upon it and don’t let your ego lose the business by passing it to a colleague if you’re the problem! Above all ask the question why and you could find that your customer retention rate goes up dramatically......

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