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Why your customers leave and how to keep them

By Alexandra Gavril - August 13, 2014
Source: http://tomfishburne.com/2013/11/acquisition.html

Source: http://tomfishburne.com/2013/11/acquisition.html

Here’s a disheartening fact:

It can cost up to 7x more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Also, according to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. 

So why is it that many brands invest more time and money into attracting new customers than into retaining current ones?

Think about it. You’ve worked so hard just to stand out from the competition and to get those customers to your site or store. You’ve worked even harder to build their trust and convince them that they’re making the right decision buying from you. And now that they’ve bought your product or service, they leave and never come back.

So why not try to figure out why your customers don’t return? There must be a reason (or several reasons) why they leave and never come back. It may be time for you to take an objective look at what might be driving your customers to your competitors.

Let’s look at a few possible reasons you’re losing your customers and ways to keep them.

6 reasons why your customers leave and tips to keep them

1. You take existing customers for granted

If you’re one of those businesses for which customer retention is an afterthought, think again. Your job doesn’t and shouldn’t stop after the first purchase.

Sure, your main goal was to turn that visitor into a paying customer and you were successful at it. But now that a purchase has been made, should you forget all about that customer and assume that they’re happy with their purchase and that there’s nothing more you can do for them?

What if that customer doesn’t fully understand how your product works? What if he isn’t aware of certain features your product includes, which means he isn’t making the most of your product? Think about the valuable advice and help you could provide to your customers to ensure they make the most of their purchase.

Pro Tip: Try to look for additional ways you can add value to your customers. For example, you could email existing customers once a month to share some great resources (like blog posts, whitepapers, video tutorials and infographics) that you’ve created especially for them to help them make the most of the product they’ve purchased from you.

Say you have a bike shop and want to make sure customers who have already bought a bike from you understand how their bike works and how to keep it in top shape. You could create content to help them learn how to change a mountain bike tire themselves, how to keep safe while cycling, or to explain the types of bicycle headsets. You could even organise biker rallies where your existing customers can connect with other bikers and exchange tips and tricks.

2. You fail to deliver on the promise

There’s nothing more disappointing for a customer than when you fail to deliver on your promise. There’s a huge difference between building yourself up and making false claims. False advertising is a sure-fire way to drive away customers and may even cost you millions so make sure you don’t cross that line.

Whether it’s the quality of your products or services, return policy, delivery times or the time it takes to get support, you do make promises to your customers. When you make those promises, you’re asking potential customers to trust that you can deliver. So when you break that trust, you run the risk of losing them for good.

And not just them but also potential customers because satisfied customers tell three friends, angry customers tell 3,000. Many customers who feel they’ve been lied to will spread the word online – whether it’s on blogs, forums or social networks – to warn other people and make sure they know what to expect when buying from you.

Pro Tip: It’s very important for a business to at least meet the expectations of their customers. For example, if you’re selling search engine optimisation software, don’t ever say that it can get a site listed on the first page of Google tomorrow (not that anyone would ever believe that, hopefully). Or if you pride yourself with providing excellent customer support, don’t promise that any ticket submitted will be replied to within one hour if in reality the response time is three to four hours. Instead, you could “under promise and over deliver” which means that you could set expectations a tad lower than you can provide, thus ensuring you are always over delivering.

3. You’re more focused on selling rather than helping

If you’re treating your customers like they’re a sales figure, then you’re doing it wrong. The question you should be asking yourself every day is “How can I help my customers today?” and not “What more can I sell to my customers today?”. Also, your social media accounts are for connecting and interacting with customers and not just another channel to advertise your products and services.

Yes, your customers are the reason your business exists and brings you profits. However, if you’re more focused on your own needs and don’t put those of your customers at the core of your business, you’re most likely to be playing a losing game.

Pro Tip: Be personal and treat your customers like human beings instead of sales figures. It’s the only way you can build trust and make them feel valued. Take interest in your customers and their businesses so that you can find and recommend personalised ways to improve their business and help them be successful.

If you can demonstrate your expertise and become your customers’ trusted advisor in such a way that they start relying on you to give the best advice and recognise you as an integral part of their business success, you will likely retain more customers. This proactive, personalised approach can also bolster customer loyalty.

4. Your customer service quality is awful

How often do consumers cut companies loose because of terrible service? All the time. According to research from Harvard Business Review, the biggest problems customers encounter when engaging with customer services are:

  • 56% report having to re-explain an issue
  • 57% report having to switch from the web to the phone
  • 59% report expending moderate-to-high effort to resolve an issue
  • 59% report being transferred
  • 62% report having to repeatedly contact the company to resolve an issue

It’s the Age of The Customer. The quality of your customer service determines how successful your business is. If it’s less than satisfactory, you should rethink your customer service strategy and define its weak points.

Pro Tip: When it comes to customer service that keeps people coming back, research shows that quality matters more than speed. According to a study by the Gallup Group, courtesy and willingness to help are far more important than speed of service in generating customer engagement. So while speed is also an important factor for customer engagement, it’s critical for your staff team to deliver services in a friendly and competent manner. So make sure you hire and train the right staff who have a positive attitude and value customer service.

5. You ignore negative feedback

No company is perfect so receiving negative feedback from customers is inevitable. The important thing is how you choose to deal with those negative comments. Whether they felt that your product needs improvement or that it took too long to get their product delivered, don’t just delete their comments and move on. Use this feedback to do better business and show customers you value their opinion.

Pro Tip: As Bill Gates’s famous saying goes: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Your customers are your best critics and when they’re unhappy with your products, services or customer experience with your brand, they simply tell you what needs to be improved. So why not use it to your advantage? Learn more about dealing with negative comments.

6. You haven’t given them a reason to return

How do you treat your customers after they purchase from you? Do you forget about them or do you make an effort and try to show that they are important to you and that you appreciate them being your long-term customers?

Pro Tip: Entice them to come back by offering a series of exclusive perks, special offers and discounts. You may also be surprised to find that you’ve also attracted new customers who saw how you treat and appreciate loyalty.

In conclusion

There are many reasons your customers leave but if you take some time to understand why, you can find ways to keep them and not only that but also turn them into loyal customers.

What are your best tips for keeping customers?