Taking Customers' Pulse, Keeping You Alive
The Art of Retaining Your Customers
Many companies work hard to successfully market and sell their products and services. Increasingly, they are focusing training and resources on attracting new customers. But, if
It costs six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an old one, why, then, do so many companies continue to lose so many of these same customers they worked so hard to get in the first place?
More customers (42%) leave because of 'indifference' on the part of the company than for any other reason-not bad product; not bad experience; just simple indifference. "Once they got my business, they didn't care."
Who didn't care?
The customer service people?
All of them?
- Many companies hire a sales 'type' that aims for 'fast-track' production - lots of sales, constant new sales. This style of selling has an inherent weakness! It lacks the time and the emphasis for "servicing what we sell."
Ideally, that part should be somebody else's job, but too often it is not. Other styles of salesperson may simply lack the time management skills to manage multi-level tasks over time.
Unfortunately, the company may not provide a good enough customer-management system to compensate for that weakness. Despite these weaknesses, other company spokespeople have more occasion than the sales force to drive away hard-won customers.
- is one of the most important yet unrecognized positions today. It seems that many companies are willing to settle for their receptionist's indifference to customers if the receptionist is at least competent.
Forty-two percent of your customers who leave you will turn away because of this indifference. Being the first person that many prospective customers are exposed to is important enough. Making customers feel that you are sincerely glad to hear from them is not just smart business today; it could be critical.
- is drawing increasing scrutiny with today's emphasis on customer-based service. In recent years, companies have done a good job using behavioral assessment tools to hire people who are comfortable in the traditional customer service role. These same companies need to analyze the new diverse roles involved in servicing their customers.
To oversimplify a bit: putting happy, motivated extroverts in a situation that handles only incoming problem calls is likely to result in customers who feel they and their problems were taken too lightly - indifferently.
A common mistake is to hire non-confrontational listeners who will follow policy and apply the manual to all situations. Suppose the manual doesn't cover a particular situation? Did you hire or appoint a troubleshooter - someone who has enough skills, knowledge and daring to "shoot from the hip?" Seven of ten complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint in their favor.
If you resolve a complaint on the spot, 95% will do business again.
How long might it take to find out an account rep is demotivated or a customer service rep is antagonistic to your customers? The bottom line is, you might not know you have a problem until it is too late unless you gather customer feedback by asking the right questions in the right way - not just once, but continuously.
Most customers will not complain.
Take your pulse regularly - it could be critical.
(Arthur G. Schoeck, Competitive Edge!, June/July 1997)