Avoid The Dreaded Customer Breakup, Part 1

We've all experienced it. The phone rings or you receive an email with those dreaded words: "We've chosen to take our business out to RFP rather than renew our contract." Or, your customer simply says, "We are not going to continue business with your company any longer."

Sometimes the message comes as a shock and disappointment. Other times, depending on the demands of the client, these words are a blessing in disguise.

Either way, most businesses don't want to lose customers. Today and tomorrow in Promotional Consultant Today, customer service expert Kate Zabriskie shares the reasons customers leave and how to keep it from happening to you.

1. Better Product. Sometimes customers decide to break up with you because they find a better product. They discover something that addresses their needs that's faster, easier, healthier, more effective, more enjoyable or improved in other ways that are important to them.

Are you buying the exact same things you were buying 20 or 40 years ago? Have you any use for a Walkman? Probably not. Smart companies listen to what their customers want, think beyond those demands, and push themselves to innovate and improve.

To keep your relationship, pay attention. Know what you're selling, what others are selling and how your customers are using what they buy from you. What problem are you solving? What would customers buy if you weren't around? What did they used to buy instead?

Also, challenge the status quo. It's easier to innovate when you're not being reactive. Don't wait for a customer exodus to motivate you. Challenge yourself to innovate before you're faced with no choice. What could you do better?

2. Better Process. Leaving for a different product isn't the only reason customers tell companies goodbye. Good processes count too. Without them, the customer experience suffers. For instance, imagine a movie theater with great films, state-of-the-art sound, pleasant employees and clean facilities. So far, so good. Now pair that vision with long lines, staff members who can't figure out to work the cash registers despite their good manners, double-booked theaters and so forth. Would you risk taking someone you cared about to such a place, or would you choose to avoid the headache and go somewhere else? Most people would prefer to opt for a breakup and avoid potential pain and problems.

To avoid breaking up over process issues, it's simple: make doing business easy. Walk in your customers' shoes, and experience your business the way they do. What are you making difficult? What could you make easier? Where are you wasting their time? What used to make sense but doesn't anymore?

Borrow from others. Process improvement ideas are everywhere you look if you know how to find them. When you are interacting with other businesses, ask yourself what they are doing well and what you can adopt or adapt.

PCT returns tomorrow with more tips for keeping your customers and avoiding the dreaded breakup.

Source: Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what's promised.

filed under May 2018
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