There are several factors to succeed in business, but one of the absolute most important ones is to keep your customers. It’s expensive to find new customers. It’s significantly more expensive to attract and build up trust with new customers as compared to selling additional products or services to existing customers.
Jeffrey Gitomer wrote an article on the reasons why customers fire you. It’s an excellent article that’s a must-read if you wish to keep your existing customers. Jeffrey Gitomer is a New York Times best-selling author and famous speaker in the area of sales. Here’s the article copied in it’s entirety:
You’re Fired! By the Real Boss—Your Customer
by Jeffrey Gitomer
Presto! Every customer returns for a second dose of whatever you sell or serve. Is that the reality? Or have you sold them once, and then got fired (and now they’re being served by your competition)?
You see, people don’t stop doing business; they just stop doing business with you. Each of us has lost a customer or ten in our business career. Why? Lots of reasons. We all know what to do; the problem is we just don’t do it.
Being fired is not just maddening and frustrating, it’s also an opportunity—an opportunity to figure out why and fix the problem. Here’s a list of 14.5 reasons why customers fire you:
1. Showing no genuine or personal interest. Impersonal service. Insincere people. Commission (only) hungry salespeople.
2. Poor response. Take too long to get back to a customer or service a customer and they will find someone else. People will even sacrifice quality for speed.
3. Unavailability. People or product. Formula: “Can’t get the stuff I need or can’t reach the person I want, equals go someplace else.
4. Hard to do business or order. Long waits on hold. People who are not product-knowledgeable. Computer voice attendant rather than a real human being to answer the phone, and going through three minutes of crap only to get lost or put on eternal hold. Bye-bye.
5. Unfriendly person on the front line. It never ceases to amaze me how many angry people serve on the front line of multimillion-dollar businesses. The first rule of every corporate policy in America should be one word: “smile.”
6. Poor or rude collection practices. This is a big one. Taking away someone’s dignity when collecting a bill is common practice in business. Most have never taken the time to point out to collection people that keeping the customer is as important as collecting the money.
7. Overpromising. Customers are like elephants—they never forget. You overpromise and under-deliver, you lose.
8. Inadequate capability to handle the customer’s problem. Poor product knowledge, or too many service problems and not enough service people. Double jeopardy if you make a lame excuse about it.
9. Too eager to do more business (too pushy, too much pressure). No one wants to buy more from a high-pressure person. Help, don’t sell. Create an atmosphere of buying (asking about them), not telling about you. Don’t be a pest—have a solid reason for following up.
10. Poor professional package or image. Customer’s want to feel that the quality of their business will be reflected by the quality of those they deal with. How’s your image? How’s your package?
11. Dumb excuses about why you “can’t.” Customers are calling because they want help. They want help with their situation, not to hear a bunch of bull-oney about yours.
12. Nickel and diming. Charging for every incidental, like copies, phone calls and interest on late payments, puts a bad taste in the customer’s mouth.
13. Poor product quality. No matter how much people pay, they expect a quality product. If you’re selling price and sacrificing quality, eventually you will lose the business to someone with opposite thinking.
14. Poor service delivery. Everyone expects fast service that’s right the first time. How’s yours? How’s the attitude of those who deliver it?
14.5 Poor training. Don’t fire the problem employee. Shoot the person who trained them. Poor or ineffective training is the root of customer dissatisfaction. Success tactic: Make “reasons for customer dissatisfaction” the basis for a new training program.
What happens to angry customers? From a variety of reliable research, here is a compilation of interesting statistics.
• 91% who leave will never return.
• 96% who leave won’t tell you the real reason they left.
• 80% will do business with you again if their problem is handled quickly, and to their complete satisfaction.
• When the incident is real bad and they leave, stories about what happened will be retold for years.
Interestingly, most of the time when we lose (get fired by) a customer, it always seems to be their fault. I’d love to have a dollar for every customer who was wrongly blamed. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s easy to assess who’s to blame—just look in the mirror. Your mirror.
I’ll leave you with two questions: What are you doing to build loyalty and ensure repeat purchases? Are your customers resigning or re-signing?
If you put forth the effort and expense to attract a customer initially, make the effort to keep them. It’ll save you significant amounts of money and time, and may just be the difference between your business succeeding or not. Until next time…
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