Every business loses customers. It’s the nature of working in a fast-paced market arena where choice is plentiful and customer satisfaction is hard to maintain. While some businesses may see losing a few customers as the end of the world, really smart businesses use failure as a way to learn and improve.
Harness the power of failure by following some simple rules.
If you have the ability to track customers who have left or are ready to leave, the simplest way to learn from your mistakes is to engage with the customer and find out the reason(s) they’re dissatisfied. You can send out a questionnaire, but keep it simple–one question if possible. If you deal directly with your customers, a polite phone call can help you learn why they might be dissatisfied. In some situations, simply reaching out is enough to bring a customer back into the fold.
Social media is also your friend
If you’ve built a following through Tweets and Facebook posts, reach out to customers already engaged with the brand. Don’t be shy–as customers leave, they’re likely to let you know why by tweeting you, or leaving a Facebook message. Use those opportunities to discover what might have gone wrong, and to make offers to customers that might just change their mind.
Don’t beg though–some customers are just ready to move on. Don’t take it personal. Staying professional at all costs will keep you looking good, even if the break up is messy. And if the customer is acting angry or irrational, and you can’t figure out why, don’t rule out your part in the narrative without looking at the facts.
Carefully comb through your actions in the lead up to the incident. Can you isolate any point where you or your staff acted in an inappropriate way towards the customer? Did you change your third-party suppliers, your software, or make updates that your customers just can’t get on board with? And if you recently made changes, did the quality of your product or service drop as a result?
Keep track of your failures
Forgetting why customers leave is the worst sin. Keep track of any incidents where customers split. Look for trends and when you find them, make sure to implement solutions that make sure that the problem doesn’t arise again.
We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. But a business willing to look at themselves honestly and make changes when necessary will be the one most likely to weather any storm, and come out ahead of the race.