Customers are surrounded by options – even in the confines of their homes and home offices. But they’ll only dump you if you make one of these missteps.
Commit these, and you can lose good customers. Of course, you likely try to avoid it. Yet, it happens.
“Every single day, businesses lose people they’d like to keep. What’s going on?” asks Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc. “While the root cause could be anything, usually, these defections stem from a few key mistakes.”
Zabriskie shared the mistakes and ways to mitigate them:
Mistake 1: Assuming long-time customers are happy
Many companies – and customer service pros – equate longevity to happiness. Meanwhile, many loyal customers consider their experiences OK or good enough.
And when experiences are just good, they aren’t worth staying for. A competitor can promise – and deliver – more and win the business.
Mitigate: Celebrate customer relationship anniversaries with check-in meetings. Schedule time yearly or every six months to thank customers – via video or in person – to say thanks, ask questions and listen to feedback. For instance, an energy company offers annual energy audits at no cost. A banker reaches out to customers to review financial goals and align accounts. A fireplace installer offers chimney inspections every summer.
Mistake 2: Forgetting customers’ best interest
Once salespeople get customers – and service helps them a few times – some customers get forgotten in the day-to-day of business. No one notices when the customers buy less, ask fewer questions or walk away dissatisfied with an answer.
Then, when the customer leaves, the company sends them incentives to come back – the same incentives that customers would’ve stayed for but were never offered.
Mitigate: “Give your existing customers your best service, best advice, and best deals,” Zabriskie says. “Doing so may hurt your wallet in the short term, but in the long run, it’s the right thing to do and a strategy that will build trust and loyalty. “
Mistake 3: Employees engaging incorrectly
Front-line employees often share information and make small talk to build rapport with customers. And customers are usually OK with it … until it’s time to get to business.
So when employees talk about themselves too much, or talk just for the sake of talking, they make customers want to do business elsewhere.
Mitigate: “Live by a customer-first philosophy,” Zabriskie says. “No matter how friendly customers are, avoid mistaking conviviality for someone’s desire to focus on you. To put it in math terms, try to do no more than 30% of the talking. Instead, spend your time asking good questions and listening to the answers.”
Mistake 4: Inconsistent communication
Sometimes companies, sales pros and service providers follow a feast-or-famine communication pattern. They connect often early in the relationship. Then they lose contact and it seems like the customer might be slipping away.
Mitigate: “Create a contact schedule that makes sense for the kind of business you’re in,” Zabriskie says. Consider your customers’ industries, lives and work. Know when they’re busy – and don’t need much interaction – and when they’re more likely open to your unsolicited help.