It's interesting that we regularly read articles or comments about high levels of staff turnover, but it is very rare to discover any commentary about “customer turnover.” It is almost as if it’s a taboo subject; that there is shame or embarrassment attached to it… Why? I suppose it is an admission of failure.
The fact remains that most companies do not face up - or do not want to face up - to the potentially high cost of losing customers. In most instances, they prefer to blame competitive activity, but the reality is somewhat different.
Here’s a survey which I have published before but, in the context of today's commentary, is worth highlighting again.
Why did customers change supplier/vendor? Here are the results:
- Developed a good relationship with another supplier (5%)
- Less expensive products elsewhere (9%)
- Unhappy with service/product (18%)
- Because of the poor attitude of the supplier (68%)
That's pretty staggering isn't it?
Taking into account just how much effort and cost is expended winning new business, do you not find it astounding just how blasé we appear to become once that first order has been placed?! The conquest has been made, we can now relax -after all, they'll call us if they need anything else, won't they? Meanwhile, we can get back to concentrating on winning more newbusiness.
It reminds me of a leaking bucket - we have to keep filling it up with new opportunities to compensate for the continual drip of existing clients leaking out of the bottom!
It seems that the majority of sales focus today appears to be on new business. Check out all the popular blogs or article sites - probably 90% of all commentary highlights lead generation, lead nurturing, email campaigns, etc.
It is as if we have become obsessed with ignoring the regular stream of income, staring us in the face, which is relatively easy to forecast and, in comparison, much easier to close and manage.
The reality is that it is never easy to win new business - and it's not getting any easier - which is why we must nurture existing customers and try to minimize problems and inconvenience for them.
We must build brick walls around them to ward off aggressive competitive attacks, because your customers are your competitor's prospects.
So, what are you doing to hang on to them?
My experience suggests that you need to recognize some basic essential facts:
- Customers want to be respected
- They want attention
- They want to be appreciated and recognized
- Most of all - they want to be understood!
- And they expect you to work to continually earn the right to their business.
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