Don’t Ask and They Won’t Tell

September 1st, 2011
Steven Howard

Understanding Why Customers Leave

Very few organizations ever call former customers to ask why they have taken their business elsewhere. And that is a mistake.

I coach my clients to conduct on-going research with lost customers, with a focus on asking three pertinent questions:

  1. have they experienced any problems or disappointments with the quality of the product delivered?
  2. Have they experienced any problems or disappointments with the service delivery?
  3. What would it take to get them to return with their patronage?

One of the main reasons for structuring the questions this way is to avoid letting "price" be the answer gleaned. Yes, sometimes price will be a key factor, perhaps the overwhelming factor, for some customer attrition. But the key here is to dig deeper, to find other underlying causes other than, or in addition to, price.

Customers are continually evaluating your organization on the experiences they receive. I spoke about my 4 PE's of Customer Retention in this keynote talk at the Aforia Schools Marketing Conference in Melbourne recently.

These 4 PE's are:

Promise + Performance Experiences

People Experiences

Process Experiences

Personalized Experiences

It is these customer experiences that need to be better understood when analyzing the reasons for customer defections.

As we highlight in this week's Monday Morning Marketing Memo, there are many unseen costs to customer attrition.

Fortunately these costs can be managed and reduced, but only if you take the time to understand the true reasons why customers are taking their business elsewhere.

Listening to your former customers, and seeking their inputs, is the first step in winning them back.

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