» The No. 1 reason customers stay or leave

The No. 1 reason customers stay or leave

February 9, 2010 by Ken Dooley
Posted in: communication, customer loyalty, Customer service, In this week's e-newsletter - Sales & Marketing, Latest News & Views - Sales & Marketing, New Research, sales management, Sales meeting ideas, training, Value

Customers are bombarded with attractive offers all the time. They are hit with deals claiming to have better pricing, quality and service. But those are not the factors that cause them to jump ship to another company.

Decisions are based on emotions

Customers rely on their emotional experiences with salespeople more than any anything else when trying to decide whether or not to stay with a company, according to research by the Peppers & Rogers Group.

Some findings include:

  • 60% of all customers will stop dealing with a company if they sense indifference on the part of salespeople
  • 70% customers will leave a company because of poor service, which they usually blame on the salesperson
  • the vast majority of defecting customers won’t tell you there’s anything wrong before jumping ship — in fact, 80% describe themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” just before leaving — so surveying isn’t enough, and
  • customers who feel the salespeople they deal with are “exceptional” are 10 to 15 times more likely to remain loyal.

These statistics show the important role that attitude and emotion play in determining whether customers leave or stay.

Meeting expectations is not enough

It’s critical for salespeople to understand customer perceptions and regularly collect feedback. Meeting their expectations is not enough. Customers want to know you care. They want a positive response when they run into problems or have serious questions.

Here are four loyalty-building strategies to share with your salespeople:

  • Come up with new ideas. You have expertise and knowledge. You know what’s happening in your industry, and you know your customers’ needs. Make a serious effort to share your thoughts. Try to help the customer get what’s needed. It will build their confidence and trust in you and your company.
  • Prove yourself – again and again. Some salespeople think because they’ve been around a long time, prospects and customers will automatically come to them first. But it’s more effective to act as if no one knows you or recognizes the value you bring. Strive to prove it every day.
  • Stay persistent and focused. Retaining your value in the minds of your customers requires persistence and focus. Customers’ needs change frequently, so try to avoid making assumptions about what they want or need. Ask yourself, “What’s happening to customers? What changes are taking place? What problems are they facing? What difficulties are they encountering in the marketplace? What are their opportunities? If you don’t have current, up-to-the minute answers to these questions, you’re in no position to meet their needs. The first rule is to stay in touch. Call frequently to find out what challenges customers are facing.
  • Think beyond customer problems. You may be doing a good job taking care of customers’ problems, but that’s not always enough today. It’s also the ideas, information, help, guidance and insight that you provide customers with that earns you the privilege of doing business with them. Initiate discussions that focus on their future needs, upcoming projects or areas of potential growth.
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  • Paul D. Schulte

    Great comments in an effort to hold a customers hand in offering experienced guidance to grow with the exact demands of the customer. Face-to-Face meeting are imperative and perhaps a forgotten procedure since the introduction of emails, twitter, facebook, Im’s with the “Instant Gratifications” the youth of many industries expects in today’s markets.

    A Handshake mentality, integrity and doing what is best for the company and the customer wil win time and time again. Yes, your competitors may offer a lower rate, but will their services be equal to yours and maintain the trust and quality experience your offer. Tough economy, quality services, honesty and integrity will win time and time again, or so I believe!

    Love the web site informative and interesting!

  • T. J. Bugg

    Ken your thoughts are in direct alignment with mine! My comment is that one “Never remembers what you said, but they will ALWAYS remember how you made them feel!”

    Each relationship – business and personal – should be treated as a “treasured gift” and as such require continual deposits – especially if you ever intend to make a withdrawal. A genuine investment that needs to be nurtured continually.

    Paul, your comments are also so very valid! The personal visit, the personal telephone call and the personal note arriving with a STAMP ON IT – are for the most part forgotten aspects of successful business and personal relationships. My clients are now accustomed to my remembering them on both a personal and professional basis and remembering them even in the times they are not requiring my services. That is why they remember me WHEN they do need my services. It is my mission to hopefully become part of their valued personal team of advisors in both good times and in bad.

    Ken, thank you for your article as it was highly valued. Might I have your permission to share it with others?

    Warmest regards,

    T. J.

    T. J. Bugg
    Centennial, Inc.

  • Dick Tebaldi

    Good comments, T.J. I especially liked “should be treated as a treasured gift”!
    I’d never put words to the relationships I’ve been so fortunate to have the opportunity to develop, but if
    I had to describe it, and I was as poetically gifted as you apparently are, those are the words I would use.
    I absolutely consider my customers good friends, because there isn’t much I wouldn’t (haven’t in some cases) done
    for and with them.
    Thanks for the prospective.
    These were obviously good thoughts/advice coming from Ken.

  • Carlos

    I agree that personal touches are needed for your customers. This also applies to your employees. If you are having a hard time with turnover, maybe you are not making your employees feel special any more. If they feel no emotional connection to you or your company, why would you expect them to stick around or give their best? Be an exceptional boss and you will have exceptional employees and exceptional customers.

  • David M. Delgado

    Hey TJ,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments and of course the context of the article. I’ll take your comments one step further. People may not necessarily remember what you said, or what you may have even done, but as you said, they will certainly remember how you made them feel. That alone, may be worth its weight in gold, or, conversely, in copper.

  • Dick Tebaldi

    Carlos, you are totally correct! The way you treat your employees gets reflected to the customers. I took a sales/mgmnt. course years ago, and the theme was “everybody you deal with is your customer and everybody is a supplier”! If you treat your “support team” like customers, they will react in kind. You, your team and the customer wins.
    One other kick phrase upon answering the telephone was ” the answer is yes, what’s the question?”
    You MUST SAY what you will DO and DO what you say you will do. Consistency is crucial…You can’t say you will and do it sometimes and not other times.
    Good info, thanks!


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