Losing Customers despite Best Efforts – II

All companies, or at least a large number, spend considerable time in discussing how to improve customer experiences and provide value-added customer service. Despite what they consider to be their best and concerted efforts, they may find themselves losing customers steadily. There are a number of reasons why customers decide to stop any association with a company.

– The key decision maker dealing with the company passes away
– The customer has changed his buying pattern and no longer needs your product
– Pricing of your product or service is not competitive enough
– Their perception of great customer service was severely hurt by what your company served them

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Most often companies are unable to decipher what went wrong and would probably target one or two of the reasons especially pricing. However, it would be worth considering customer perception of your customer service. A relationship with a customer is not just about pricing or great products or services. A customer must perceive your company as a whole to be one that appreciates his or her time and investment. Your company should have created a relationship by knowing the customer, being helpful, knowledgeable and sincerely empathetic. All these factors along with great pricing and a high quality product make for customer satisfaction and loyalty. However, if a customer feels that your company is neglecting them or is not treating them with care, they leave without feedback and never return. A drop in customer service and overall customer experience can happen for myriad reasons, resulting in losing customers. So what are the wrongs to avoid or the right things to do within the realm of customer service?

– Not paying focused attention to ‘actual’ investment in your business. By this we mean, no training or upgrading of your customer service teams. No cross-channel communication with your customers and relying only on traditional methods of communication. If as a company you don’t invest time and money on constantly refurbishing your customer service teams and methods, you are most certainly headed down the road to failure.

– You introduce new payment schedules and contract terms that are too complicated and even the most seasoned and hitherto loyal customers find them difficult to comprehend. They are bound to head ‘next door’ where they will have lesser hassles.

– The working terms and conditions that are changed do not fit in with customer’s scheme of things. You as a company made these changes due to some internal circumstances and kept only a few customers in mind while doing so. The others are now ‘outbound’.

– As a company taking feedback and rectifying past failures and errors is a constant and unrelenting process. However, if you fail to take in to consideration the lapses and they continue unabated, customers are sooner than later going to leave. Not stepping up your service recovery methods is also a major reason for you losing customers.

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– Keeping customers happy through excellent customer service is not a one-off or a ‘nice to do’. It is a must do since your business depends on it. Inculcate this in all your employees, such that they don’t view customer service as it being only the responsibility of the customer service teams. Being treated right is the prime reason your customers stay or leave if not.

– As a company you spend a lot of time internally, focusing on how to make customer interactions better. However, this focus remains internal and the customer is unable to see any strong evidence of it. When customers do not perceive any value add to your current service it is certain that you will lose them without a warning.

– Long periods of time elapse without your company publishing any new reports or keeping customers updated with the future plans of the company. Customers begin to doubt and are not really inclined to find out. They just assume there is a problem and you will be staring in to the face of customer exodus. Planning ahead and making those plans known to your customers puts customers at ease and is an important aspect of great customer service.

– Even if communication is being sent out, it lacks polish and punch. There are factual errors and riddled with glaring typos. The message being sent to the customer is that you as a company do not care enough to send out communication that is even worth reading. Consistently done, customers translate this as shoddy customer service and will deflect to a company that pays extra attention to the way they communicate.

– Your customer service staff does not follow up either because they haven’t been trained or they fear customer ire or are just simply lazy. Following up with customers, shows them your interest in their business and the value you attach to it. Pertinent training will help your customer service team to know the difference between a ‘regular follow up’ versus being pushy and irritating.

– Use smart negotiation with your customers when discussing a new product or any added services the customer demands. Incorrect negotiation will ruin the current relationship you have with your customer and when word spreads, your company is sure to be headed down the path of losing customers slowly but surely. Offering to personalize a service package will show them value and you will not need to compromise on your prices.

– Your customer service team must be adept at asking the right questions to get accurate answers from customers. Customers will not make the time or spend resources on trying to make you see their point of view – you have to dig it out. True your service teams are not mind readers, but not asking relevant and pointed questions will probably point you in the opposite direction of what your customer wants. Customers should be able to perceive a genuine interest on your part to understand them and not a desperate and overbearing attempt at gaining business.

– Among the list of must dos, responding immediately to customer queries and or complaints should figure in the top. Nothing speaks apathy more than being ignored and customers make it a point to hate this. Do this even once and your company would have instantly perfected the art of losing customers!

– Your customer service team promises on your behalf and then doesn’t deliver. How many of us know how it feels when we hear “You will receive a call from us in the next 15 minutes” and the call comes 15 days later, when you have already moved on to competition. Don’t promise if you cannot deliver.

– Focus on getting your customer service to a level where customers cannot think of any other company than yours to deliver customer service excellence. Ensure that your customer service teams have staff that is proficient in excellent customer service, to cover the entire realm of customer service. Each person should have mastered 2-3 aspects of customer service rather than being mediocre in all aspects. Customers pay for excellence and efficiency and would much rather speak to an expert rather than a fumbling dolt. They would rather just leave you than be subject to this idiocy.

– The above is a factor on not having enough staff or well trained staff. If your staff is unhappy you will be faced with high attrition and possibly the most highly trained staff will also leave. Due to the paucity of time and human resource, your customer service team is probably being handled by staff that is poor skilled and trained. This is when the customer service levels begin to fall drastically and the dreaded fact of losing customers will come to the fore.

It is not difficult to discern that being nice, polite, knowledgeable and thoughtful is all that customers expect from your customer service. When you treat customers, right and in the way they expect to be treated, you will find them being loyal to you even if there are, some minor product or service, related lapses. They are more understanding and forgiving of errors when they have received excellent service in the past and a major part of their customer experiences have been delightful. Retaining customers is easy but losing customers is even easier – hopefully your company is not the one that has mastered the art of losing customers. Has yours?

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