Thursday, May 19, 2011

Five Quick and Easy Ways To...Lose Your Customer by Sunny Brady

Your business spends a lot of money trying to attract new customers. But after you attract them,how hard do you work to keep them attracted?

Many business owners mistakenly think that when they lose a customer, it is due to reasons beyond the business owner's control. In other words, customers leave only when their needs change and they no longer need the product or service that the business provides. But in actuality, this reason accounts for relatively few customer bounces. In fact, statistics show that it is responsible for fewer than 10 percent of them. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the fault for customer loss rests squarely on the shoulders of the business. Some of the reasons cited include things like disappointment with the quality of product or service, unfair pricing, and equipment that doesn't work. But even these things aren't the major culprits. The real eye-opening statistic is this one: about three out of every four customers leave due to what they perceive as poor customer service.

Any business owner who minimizes the importance of customer service needs to read the above paragraph over and over again. Attracting customers is a waste of money if those same customers end up leaving you. And if they leave you because they feel you are servicing them poorly, then there is surely something you can do to prevent it. But on the other hand, if you are content to see them walking away, then maybe you should just continue to make the same customer service mistakes that I see so many businesses routinely make. What are they? Well here are some of them:

Laziness: I'm constantly surprised at how many employees don't do their homework. How can you tell your customers which of your products will best solve their problems if you haven't bothered to learn the strengths and weaknesses of all of those products? How can you communicate your company's policies and procedures to your customers if you haven't taken the time to learn them thoroughly yourself? How can you know whom in your company to contact if your customer has a question outside your area unless you are completely familiar with your corporate structure and co-worker responsibilities? Nothing impresses customers more than a company rep who knows his or her facts and follows up to find the best solution for them in a timely manner.

  • Over-persistence: The most common cover-up for an employee who has a limited amount of knowledge about his company's products is to talk up the one or two products he does know well and drill home their selling points ad nauseum. And the most common cover-up for an employee who hasn't bothered to learn his customers well enough to understand what they really need is to try to sell them something they don't want - and then to make up for their ignorance by over-selling it. Marketing to your customers is one thing. But doing so to the point of annoyance can be a real turn-off.

  • Surly, disagreeable, or uncommunicative attitude: An agreeable and empathetic demeanor is a great first step in gaining the customer's trust. A smile or a nod of the head can go a long way. So can calmness, especially when you are faced with an agitated client. It's all part of communication - probably the single most important ingredient in good customer relations.

  • Failure to listen: Another huge element of communication is the ability to listen. This is truly the only way you learn about your customer. Yet you'd be surprised at how often I see company reps, intentionally or not, dominate conversations with their customers. Being a good listener is a skill, but it is a skill worth knowing when you deal with customers. You not only learn about them but you also show them your concern.

  • Early surrender: Very often customers present problems that are not easily solved. Maybe they are being blockaded by your company's restrictive policies or red tape. When this happens, the last thing customers want to hear is ìSorry but that's the way we do it.î When presented with tough problems or situations, it's tempting for employees to give up trying to solve them. Yet solving those problems exactly what customers expect and usually what they are entitled to.
    Employees who are not easily swayed and who have an ability to see things through to the end are worth their weight in gold.

  • Customer loss is preventable. The vast majority of the time, you can keep your customers if you can make them feel that your company is doing everything it can to service their needs.Delivering first-class customer service is a conscious choice. And it's a choice you need to make. When you treat your customers well after you attract them, that attraction will last forever.

    Sunny Brady helps businesses and homeowners seeking self storage in Florida find it online, including listings for self storage in Ocoee. In her spare time she likes to get outside, ideally with a bike.