Every business these days makes great play of being fanatically focused on customer feedback. And while building market response into every level of your overall processes makes a lot of sense, there is one major snag you’ll need to address – not every customer is willing to share their opinions.
There’s only a certain percentage of customers who will ever give you feedback of any kind, positive or negative. Even amongst those who’ve had a bad experience with your company, only a fraction of them will ever bother complaining. The majority will simply silently walk away and never do business with you again.
Unless you’re actively monitoring social media and they happen to vent their frustrations online, you’ll never know what type of negative word of mouth reports these disaffected customers might be responsible for.
What does this mean for your business? Simply that you cannot be expecting your customers to solve your problems for you. The onus is on you as a business owner to proactively root out potential problems in advance rather than waiting to be told about them.
Here are four classic causes of customer complaint that can result in you losing customers. Consider them in the context of your current business and get that thinking cap on about how to plug the possible leaks.
- You didn’t keep your word
Regardless of whether you make it explicit or not, your products and services come with a promise attached: that they will be delivered professionally, on time and at the price indicated.
If there’s a significant mismatch between the idea you are selling to the world and the reality of your delivery, you are essentially breaking your word in the eyes of the customer.
They may or may not say it to your face but that disappointment and feeling of being short-changed will lead to them walking out the door. Strive for congruency in all areas of your offering.
- Your staff are rude
There is a boom in “undercover shopping” services worldwide for a very good reason. It’s all too easy for staff at all levels to paint on a smile when they know someone is watching them. What counts of course is what happens in the thousands of unobserved customer interactions that take place every day.
The default tone of anyone working in your company should be pleasant, helpful and courteous. This is something that needs to be rigorously watched – all it takes is one bad apple to lower the overall impression of an entire team.
Customers rightfully expect a base level of civility in any encounters with your company. Fail this test and they won’t be back anytime soon.
- Pushing too hard
Staying in touch with your existing customers through regular re-marketing is a sensible strategy for any business but the devil is very much in the detail when it comes to carrying this off successfully.
Push too hard and you risk alienating customers who may be otherwise very happy with your services. The tone you take is equally crucial, it needs to be in keeping with your overall offering.
Permission is the key here. Ask for it explicitly and never assume you have the right to contact a customer in any shape, manner or form without their prior agreement.
- The competition has you beat
Sometimes, for whatever reason, you will simply not be able to match a competitor’s offering for a particular product or service.
It goes without saying that surveying your competition should be a regular part of the marketing strategy of any business in order for you to have a clear picture of what you’re up against in the wider market.
If you notice a sudden drop in sales or repeat business, it could well be a sign that you need to sharpen your pencil in relation to competition from a particular source. Bear in mind though that losing out on a customer to the opposition isn’t necessarily always cause for alarm.
Much depends on where you want to be positioned in the market. If you have decided not to compete on price and are losing lower value customers to discount rivals, this could actually be a good thing.
It all comes down to how much you know about your market, your offering and the exact customer segment you’re after.
Take tackling the four points above as your minimum set of initial requirements when it comes to solving the mystery of why you might be losing customers unexpectedly.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to ex-customers for info on why they’ve left either, or to employ impartial, third-party services to give you real, actionable feedback on your products and services.
Remember, it’s ultimately up to you as the owner to go the extra mile in investigating how your business is perceived rather than waiting for your customers to tell you what to fix.