Creating a strong and constructive relationship with each of your customers is almost always key to running a successful business. Maintaining their trust through well-managed customer service is hugely important for encouraging customer loyalty and repeat business – it does, after all, make any transaction so much smoother when each side of a partnership is happy!
We all know that relationships need time and effort to help them grow. Unfortunately, there are lots of ways in which a relationship with a customer can break down. We’ve listed some examples below with the aim of helping you avoid these pitfalls.
So how do you lose a customer?
As well as understanding how to gain customers, businesses must also know how to retain them. It’s well documented that it can cost as much as five times more to gain a new customer than to retain one. If you’re losing customers, it’s important consider why they might be leaving. By knowing how you can lose a customer, you and your team will at least be able to take the necessary measures to ensure that they are receiving the very best service, to give them the greatest chance of staying. Here are some of the main reasons:
- Not listening to your customers. In order to really understand what your customer wants and needs, you need to listen to them. Part of providing excellent customer service is making sure that your client feels heard. No matter how minor the issue, it’s essential to show you care about finding a solution. Try to make every customer feel valued by giving them your full attention and making them feel like they are your most valued client at the moment in time.
- Ignoring your customers. Even worse than not listening is making your customers feel ignored. It’s almost impossible to resolve an inquiry with one interaction and you might need to speak with your client a number of times. If this is the case, don’t forget to follow up with them by returning their call at the correct time and be punctual for each of your interactions. Good communication is key to establishing a long-term relationship. Many businesses large and small, fall into the trap of not answering calls, chat messages or emails in a timely manner. If you can’t manage the calls or chats yourselves, choose a good virtual receptionist company to handle them instead.
- Making it difficult to do business with you. Companies that make it hard to do business with them will leave their customers feeling frustrated. Restricting your working hours or your customer service channels can be problematic, as people have now come to expect exceptional customer service via all types of communication, whenever they might need it. Your business needs to cater for each of your customers’ different preferences, be it email, phone or web chat.
- Lacking coordination between team members. Once they make contact, customers will want a quick and simple solution to their query. Rather than starting a fresh conversation each time they call, your customer-service team should have the means of keeping up to speed on each inquiry. This may mean updating software systems for a seamless interaction. Make sure your agents are familiar with processes and policies, so they don’t contradict one another or confuse the customer.
- Acting in an unprofessional manner. Even if you’re at the other end of a telephone line, looking and acting like somebody who takes pride in their job can reflect a positive attitude on the phone or on email. Its often tempting to treat unhappy customers as if they are an inconvenient problem to be got rid of, but a bit of empathy and understanding can go a long way (even if you’re struggling to find it in the face of a barrage of criticism!).
- Taking your customers for granted. Where would your business be without customers? Probably not particularly successful. Only with loyal customers will your company be able to exist in the first place, let alone thrive and grow, so you should never take them for granted. It’s easy for them to go elsewhere to a competitor if they don’t feel they’re getting the service that they expect.
- Ignoring feedback from your customers. Feedback is an important part of improving your business offering, but it’s not always easy to proactively seek out your customer’s opinion, particularly if it might involve some criticism. The fact is that you must listen to what your customers have to say, as this will help your business to identify the things that need to change for the better.
Keep hold of your customers
If a customer has chosen to spend money with your business, they will want reassurance that they have made the right decision. In a world where the competition is often just a click away, it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re not giving them a growing list of reasons to leave. Give them confidence early on that their decision was sound and even if you make mistakes in the future you will have built up goodwill which help you keep them as customers, even if things go wrong.