Imagine cultivating a close relationship with your customer for eight years. This customer is emotionally attached to your brand or service and pays a premium for it. They have many other options but choose to travel longer, pay more and commit to your service for 12 months at a time.
That customer is expensive to acquire. But once you have them, and if you treat them well, they stay with you for a long time.
Undoubtedly, every business loses customers due to attrition. Still, that should be the minority and numbers of dissatisfied customers should stay consistent over time if you’re doing your job well. This means creating a product that is worth the premium, following up when your customer is having issues and always treating one customer as you’d treat all your customers. That means not catering just to the high-end customer, but also to your entry-level customer. They’re both vital to your success and ignoring one or the other can spell trouble.
Now imagine you have a couple of tumultuous years. You lose long-time employees and the quality of your product suffers, or the perception is the product has suffered. That leads to customers doubting you and some general unhappiness amongst your most loyal customers. But they stay with you as they are heavily invested.
Then, when things don’t get better, even some of your most valuable and loyal customers leave. They just don’t recognize the company and they make the hard choice to leave. It’s actually an emotional decision for them and one they didn’t take lightly. After all, they feel heavily invested in you. To make them leave, they had to feel there was no hope you’d gain your past glory.
What do you do next? Obviously, you have a problem. Will you face the problem? Will you just blame the customers and invest (at a greater cost) to gain new customers who don’t have the loyalty or history with your brand? Will you even think to ask them why they’re leaving?
Businesses – heck even churches, schools, and organizations – can learn a great amount about how they can get better from the customers who leave them. No one likes losing customers but increasingly many businesses and organizations hide their head in the sand and don’t even attempt to figure out why the customer is leaving. Many times that customer has become more disgruntled and perhaps even a little more noisy. Instead of working through the emotion of disappointment, to understand why they’re defecting, some brands just move on.
This is a critical strategic error on their part. You can learn much more from those customers who leave you than even those who stay. These customers that leave you are unfiltered and have real issues that can help you do better. We learn from the totality of our experiences both good and bad. Those companies or organizations that only care to focus on the positive and the “easy” route, suffer in the end.
At the end of the day, that sort of short-sightedness passes from the leadership on down. Even customers get used to deficiencies and slipping quality.
Are you learning from your former customers?