Do you run a business?
Are you thinking about starting a business?
Maybe you’ve only just begun the start-up process.
Either way, you need customers.
There is no denying this fact.
No matter how much you like to argue, there’s one truth:
Customers are the lifeblood of any business.
It’s not important enough to acquire customers, though.
You have to work on attention to customer retention too.
Here a few stats from a Zendesk customer service study:
- 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service
- 86% are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience
- 95% of customers share bad experiences with others
That’s some pretty important info to think about.
It shows that how you treat your customers has a huge direct impact on your business.
Unfortunately, plenty of businesses suck at making customers feel comfortable, important or even relevant.
It’s important to remember that “customer service” isn’t specific to calls to a helpline or employees in a retail environment.
“Customer service” encompasses everything related to interactions with customers–website visits, emails, phone calls, and in-person interactions.
Here are 5 specific ways that are very common among businesses that lose customers due to perceived poor treatment.
1. Make it hard to find or get in touch with you
Nobody likes having to work in order to give you their business.
Quite frankly you should be making it impossible for them to not find your info.
Not having a website or a poorly designed website lacking a contact page (or any contact info for that matter) is a great way to accomplish this.
So is having a generic free email address that has nothing to do with the business which makes it more difficult to remember or associate with you.
Being without a fax is understandable, but not having a phone number at all is inexcusable.
What’s even more frustrating for customers is having your contact info, but never being able to reach a live person.
If you have a phone, you need to answer it.
Plus these days, every business needs a social media presence.
If for nothing else, your presence needs to be known to the world and make it increasingly easier for others to find you.
If you don’t care about losing out on acquiring new customers, keep doing any (or all) of those things.
2. Take forever to respond
People don’t like to feel as if they don’t matter or are being ignored.
By doing this, you are putting that very assumption into their heads.
How long does it take to respond to an email?
Return a phone call?
How about a message on social media?
All it takes is a minute or two.
An email saying something like “Hi, I got your message, but things are crazy right now. I’ll get back to you by the end of the week.” shouldn’t be such a hindrance as many people make it out to be.
Simply responding even if time is short or you don’t have an answer, will let them know you haven’t forgotten or aren’t neglecting them.
And remember, these are people who want to give you their money.
But go ahead and keep people waiting forever to hear back from you.
It’s not like there are other businesses they can turn to which will treat them the right way.
3. Lie, Cheat & Steal
Give them some song and dance about why you didn’t take their numerous calls.
Try to sell them on the reasoning behind your inability to do something as simple as answering their e-mails.
Portray yourself over as something you aren’t.
Just don’t take responsibility for your actions (or lack thereof), be transparent, or most of all, be up front.
Waste their time.
Take their money.
Don’t do anything at all while taking their money.
That’s a sure way to drive away business.
In this day and age, virtually anything can be found about anybody, so keep things shady if you really want to drive people away.
4. Fail to deliver
Do you promise the world to potential clients even though you know for a fact that you would have a hard time backing up those claims?
Do you have a problem saying “no” to new customers even if you know your plate is overflowing?
People want to think they are #1 in your book, and both of those tell a much different story in customers’ minds.
What else can you do to lose customers?
Coming up short on guarantees.
Overreaching on promises of service.
Not meeting deadlines (some people just cannot work within a timetable, and you know who you are).
Providing less than quality work.
All of these are failures to deliver on your end.
Broken promises lead to angry customers.
Angry customers become former customers.
Former customers tend to talk a lot about their bad experiences.
That should definitely accomplish the goal of losing customers.
5. Spam People Relentlessly
One of the most delicate things when it comes to customers is trust.
They want to be sure that you aren’t selling their personal info.
They also want to be sure that you aren’t disclosing information about them.
Sure, a lot of businesses rely on email or text marketing for customer acquisition as well as retention.
But the other side of that coin is knowing where the line exists that separates informative and spam communication.
Sending messages every day is almost certainly crossing that line.
Once a week?
That’s toeing the line.
Biweekly or monthly?
That’s probably the safest option.
You have to be careful to balance the frequency and kind of information you send out to people.
How would you feel if a company breached your trust by abusing its communication privileges with you?
You definitely don’t want to get overzealous and be viewed as a spammer, which will cause a huge trust rift.
That’s a surefire way to push customers away.
The bottom line is quite simple.
Follow these 5 rules of thumb, and you will be guaranteed to not only lose your current customers but potential clients as well.
People do talk and word of mouth is a strong way to affect business, whether in a positive or negative manner.
Just look back at the beginning of this article for proof.
Remember, without customers, there isn’t a business.
What practices have you experienced as a customer that you make sure to avoid as a business owner when it comes to retaining customers? What do you do to make sure your customers remain your customers?