ICAS Guest Columnist Nick Davies explains why customers can't be bothered staying with businesses which are indifferent to them, and why winning business is a process that should never end.
Look at this:
- 1% die
- 3% move away
- 5% follow a friend’s or relative’s recommendation
- 9% find an alternative they perceive to be better quality or value
- 14% are dissatisfied with the product or service
- 68% leave because of indifference. They go elsewhere because they don’t feel valued or loved!
These figures represent reasons why customers stop buying from organisations.
I’ve seen these before but had forgotten about them, until recently, when we were reacquainted via a book I happened to be flicking through.
It’s the last one that really stands out isn’t it? Although, take a look at the 4th and 5th too because they’re easily overlooked.
The first three represent only 9% of the reasons people leave you and buy elsewhere and, if we are honest, are pretty impossible to do anything about (Even the most determined of business development gladiators would call it quits at a dead customer.)
However, that leaves 91% of our potential lost customers very much in the ‘salvageable’ category, so lets’ take a look at them.
‘9% find an alternative they perceive to be better quality or value’
The word to focus on here is, ‘perceive’. These people don’t leave to a competitor because they do offer better quality or value, but because your client perceives that they do: and there’s a big difference because very often, the grass is not greener on the other side.
The point is that as a person responsible for developing business, you need to keep in touch with your clients and make sure they know about all the great things about your product or service. This might be technical aspects and features of what they buy from you, which in turn may be standard on your offering or added value stuff that you include in the price but which they might have forgotten or not realised.
Equally, the value they receive might be in the form of personal service and of a level they simply could not get elsewhere, which means you have to continually demonstrate this buy going that extra mile.
‘14% are dissatisfied with the product or service’
You should be aware of this before they change to another provider, rather than AFTER, when it’s very often too late!
This is an easy one to avoid. Listen to your customer: regularly! What do they like about the product or service you provide? What’s working well, what not so well? Is there anything they would like you to alter/deliver differently? How are the end users finding it? Is it meeting expectations or falling below? What could you do to improve it? Do they have any suggestions?
‘68% leave because of indifference: They go elsewhere because they don’t feel valued or loved!’
There are three points to be gleaned from this:
- Whilst business development activity focused on winning new clients is important; it is foolish to ignore or take for granted your existing clients.
Winning more work/sales/orders/commissions from existing clients is so much easier than going out and finding new ones. Why? Because they like and trust you already!
- Every customer is hard won so, never, never, ever, take their business for granted. Once you have caught a fish, you put it in a net and it stays there. There isn’t a net for customers: they are free to swim away any time they wish and what’s more they are being enticed away by your competitors at every turn.
Even when you are not actively doing work with them or they are not ordering from you regularly, you should be keeping in touch. A quarterly newsletter won’t do it and neither will invitations to seminars: you need to talk to them and tell them that you still love working with them and really appreciate their business.
- Say ‘Thank you’. Every time someone gives you work; thank them. It is amazing how few organisations and people within them do this.
Nick Davies is a Blue Peter badge and award-winning international trainer, speaker, occasional stand-up comic and author of 'How to be Great at Stuff you Hate: the straight-talking guide to persuading networking & selling'.
The founder of The Really Great Training Company, Nick's client list is varied, ranging from The Royal Household & international banks to self-employed start-ups.
This is one in a series of monthly columns in which he offers irreverent and relevant tips on business development, networking, presenting and influencing & persuading.
Nick does not golf.