Customer Retention


Market research has shown that most of us would rather switch suppliers than complain:Customers Buying

96% of unhappy customers say nothing … to their now former supplier; they simply don’t return.
Instead, they tell their sad story to approximately nine or ten of their friends, who then pass it on to their friends etc.  13% actually tell 20 or more people!

Of the 4% that do complain, 95% stay with their current supplier when their problem is resolved quickly and to their satisfaction. In fact, they perceive the remedy to be so fantastic that they typically remark positively about it to five of their friends. Contrast this with satisfied clients, who usually say nothing or at most tell one or two friends about you and your products. The bottom line:

“complaining customers should be cherished as valuable partners helping you improve and grow your business.”

Additional research identified the reasons that customers left:

1% … Death  (fair enough!)

3% … Moved Away

5% … Buy from a friend

9% … Sold to by your competitor

14% … Product/Price issues

68% … Perceived indifference

68% PERCEIVED INDIFFERENCE!!! – Two out of three unhappy customers complained with their feet about the quality of their relationship with you. They just didn’t feel that you cared enough about them!!

Customer’s feelings about their suppliers are organised into four levels;

  1. Confidence (Trust & dependability)
  2. Justice (Fair treatment)
  3. Pride (Mutual respect)
  4. Passion (Inspiration)

To achieve levels 3 & 4 you have to go through 1 & 2. Customers leaving you complaining about price are either not confident that they are getting good value or are unhappy with how their problems were handled; i.e. levels 1 and 2.

So what is the secret formula for customer care to create a positive and memorable experience that shows that you do care?

  • REACT – Tell them that you understand how they feel and ask them to tell you more. Then LISTEN, patiently and empathetically.
  • RESPOND – Apologise to them and thank them for coming forward. Ask them what they think is fair.
  • RECOVER – Solve their problem quickly and completely.
  • +1 – Add a bonus as “Customer Insurance … to ensure that the story (they tell) will be positive and the customer will be saved.” For example, “you check into a hotel and your room isn’t ready. The receptionist says ‘Mr. Smith, you’re in luck! Your room isn’t ready. That means you get to eat breakfast for free AND (the plus) use our business centre for free!’ WOW!

Do you see? Customers don’t make up stories about you. You do, by what you say and do. Customers simply retell them. A customer will either say something good about you, nothing about you or something bad about you. By your words and actions you determine which it is.

But why wait until you have a customer complaining? Think about what you can do now to shape a remarkable experience with each “normal” customer interaction? How can you WOW your customers every day? How do you answer the phone? How do you take a message? How do you greet customers and prospects when they come to your shop or office? When delivering your product, do you thank them and tell them that you appreciate their business? What can you do to help them look and feel better?

Imagine arriving five minutes early for your appointment and being shown immediately into your private relaxation room. A waterfall in the corner is filling the room with soothing sounds that harmoniously mix with the gentle music playing in the background. You sit in a relaxing massage chair with your favourite beverage as you wait. An attendant quietly enters the room and prepares a hot paraffin wax treatment for your hands. Just another session at your local health club? No, you are about to get your teeth cleaned at Dr Smith’s dental practice.

You might ask: What does this have to do with good dentistry? NOTHING. What does this have to do with good business and great customer care? EVERYTHING! You may not have the type of business where you can deliver spa-like treatment to your customers, and it might not be what us northern-folk would like anyway, but you can certainly find interesting ways to inspire them, provide exceptional service, and WOW them.  Be thoughtful and creative; not only will they return, they will tell raving tales about you to their friends.


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