Recognize Signs of Customer Discontent: How to Prevent Customer Loss

Customer Discontent

Customers are on average disappointed by 25% of their purchases. In other words, one out of every four of their purchases (whether it's a new wine brand, a hotel stay, or a car purchase) doesn't end well.

Most businesses are very good at attracting new customers but struggle to identify their dissatisfied customers, who are ready to switch to competitors.

These companies fail to take action to retain these customers. They fail to realize that the goal of marketing is not just to attract customers but also to retain them. They fail to recognize that it costs 5-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing satisfied.

The common mistakes they make, resulting in customer loss to competitors, include:

Not conducting satisfaction surveys. There's a simple way to find out if your customers are satisfied: ask them. If done correctly (which can be done in various ways and at different times), you can gather useful information and, if you take immediate action, you may prevent customer defection.

Not leveraging (and empowering) frontline staff. Employees who interact with customers are your "eyes and ears". They interact with them and observe, for example, if a customer is dissatisfied or overhear a guest complaining to their spouse about the hotel room smelling of mold.

Not analyzing customer purchasing behavior. By studying a customer's history, they may discover that lately, the customer has been distancing themselves or reducing interactions with the business (e.g. a gym finds that several customers no longer come or come infrequently).

Not being open to feedback. They haven't convinced customers that they are good listeners. For example, a sign that reads "tell us how we can improve" or "if you're satisfied, tell your friends; if you're dissatisfied, tell us" would surely encourage many to speak.

Ignoring complaints. If you're lucky, the customer will complain. A dissatisfied customer who complains is still your customer. If you close the door on them, you'll push them to the competition. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority simply doesn't complain.

Staying away from the web. They don't monitor what's being said about them on review sites, forums, or social media, in the form of comments. Many do, but they see anyone who criticizes them as a threat. They then label the "odd" customer and respond accordingly.

They don't follow the MBWA principle (management by walking around). They don't leave their office, don't interact with customers and staff, and don't show interest. Don't forget that there's a basic principle: everyone likes to talk to the boss.

They don't implement any win-back strategies. Even when a customer is lost, contact him if you have his mail, ask him what happened, and why not, try to win him/her back.

John Protopapadakis is a marketing and customer service/complaint management expert. He has been an author, a professor, a consultant and a seminar instructor. As a keynote speaker his speeches are content-rich and motivational.{alertInfo}

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