When Customers Leave

August 28th, 2011
Steven Howard

Finding Out the True Reasons for Customer Attrition

What's the worst thing a customer can do when they stop doing business with you?

Most audiences I ask respond: "tell others why they've left."

That, of course, can be particularly troublesome. As noted in this week's Monday Morning Marketing Memo on The Unseen Costs of Lost Customers, research shows dissatisfied customers will tell up to 19 friends, colleagues and family members when they decide to stop doing business with a company or stop purchasing a particular brand.

And that research was before today's golden era of social media, where it is so easy to blast a product or organization via blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and email. But even with social media, that's not the worst thing defecting customers can do when they leave.

Rather, the very worst thing they can do is to leave and not tell you why.

After all, if you do not know what is causing customers to leave, you cannot fix the problem, meaning more customers are likely to take their business and loyalty elsewhere. 

I urge clients to research lost customers on an on-going basis. It is import to ascertain if customers are leaving due to policies, procedures, staff attitude problems, product quality, or service delivery issues. All of these are fixable, if desired.

Very few organizations ever call former customers to ask why they have taken their businesses somewhere else. Most are either too afraid to ask or are too hurt that customers have actually left.

I say do not be afraid to ask. If you do not ask, you will never know the true reasons for customer attrition.

There is an art to this type of customer research. Give me a call and I will be happy to walk you through the process.

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