The transformation of loyal customers into former customers is a real conundrum. Especially in the age of big data meets customer satisfaction. After all, if you continuously keep your fingers on the pulse of your customers, all that data should tell you who is vulnerable. And who is not.
Theoretically, that strategy makes sense. And you are very smart folks, so I am not going to write a novel here for you. However, realistically, you know as well as I do that how companies keep their fingers on customers’ collective pulses varies all over the place. What is your strategy?
And just what factors are you overlooking when you rely on – and react to – survey data? I offer two scenarios reflecting what I see the majority of the time when speaking about and giving workshops on retaining customers.
Does a Ready-Aim-Fire customer loyalty strategy create former customers?
Perhaps your organization treats all customers homogeneously, as “the customer.” In small businesses, with a small employee pool and limited sales staff, this model often appears as the most efficient means of applying everyone’s skill sets. Often, in the absence of a solid customer satisfaction protocol. Consequently, the goal is keeping all customers happy. However, applying this strategy often becomes a reaction to customer dissatisfaction, rather than keeping the most valuable customers satisfied. Employees’ time focuses on triaging customers who complain the most, rather than serving the ones most critical to business sustainability. With no clear target for service delivery excellence, loyal customers easily are ignored. Sadly, customer abandonment becomes the norm.
Is your small business busy serving a “universal customer” persona, rather than targeting – and listening for – reasons loyal customers are considering becoming former customers?
Are net promoters really all that satisfied? Enough to remain loyal?
Then again, many large businesses often rely on a net promoter scoring model. This model rates and ranks customer willingness to recommend a vendor’s products and services. Thus, this model correlates customer satisfaction with probability of recommending that vendor. However, what happens when loyal customers decide your organization’s products and services are their best competitive weapons? And, therefore, they regard your organization as their best-kept secret? They would love to recommend you, but do not. Then again, as you devote resources to serving apparently loyal net promoters, what about other, not-so-highly ranked customers? Do you abandon and sacrifice them? Or do you nurture and grow them, to create tomorrow’s next generation of loyal customers?
Is your big business busy serving top net promoters based on survey results, rather than targeting – and listening for – reasons loyal customers are considering becoming former customers?
Stick close to current and former customers, by listening to them, as well as surveying them.
First, surveying customers is not an end in itself. Next, doing something with those survey results becomes the best means of discovering which loyal customers are compromised and by what factors. Then, engaging the workforce to take proactive actions to preserve their loyalty, rather than reacting post-defection, is critical to retaining customers.
Ultimately, loyal customers defect for the reasons they always defect: the organization takes their eyes off the critical factors influencing their loyalty. And just perhaps, these factors are best detected by human interfaces – your employees – combined with survey results.
Within your organization, what is the real value of listening to customers? Are you ready to create a simple program to get started?
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Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™, is an innovative speaker, strategist, and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention. Babette’s playbook of collaboration tools, Do YOU Mean Business?, is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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