Customer Experience News & Trends

A nation of Serial Switchers: 6 top reasons customers leave

Customers walk away from businesses at an alarming rate these days — and it’s mostly for the same reasons. This is why you’re losing customers — and how you can prevent them from defecting.

We’re a nation of Serial Switchers

In life, we don’t break up over a quiet dinner with lovers anymore, claiming, “It’s not you, it’s me.” We change Facebook statuses to end relationships. At work, we don’t change jobs and give two week’s notice. We update LinkedIn with our new title.

And when doing business, we don’t complain to a company.

Instead, we switch.

“Many consumers believe that the process of resolving issues is so cumbersome that they will switch without even attempting to make contact,” says Jonathan Gale, CEO of NewVoiceMedia, which just released the research report, “A Nation of Serial Switchers.”

Money out the window

Researchers estimate that as much as $40 billion is transferred from companies that fail customers to others that might get the customer experience right.

Of course, you want your organization to both keep customers happy and with you and ready to meet the demands of new customers who were disappointed by their experiences elsewhere.

The best way: Understand the top reasons customers leave businesses and what they’re looking for in relationships with businesses.

Here are the top reasons customers walk and proven tips to keep them happy.

1. ‘No one appreciates me’

56515086More than half of customers walk away from businesses because they don’t feel they were appreciated for their purchase or loyalty, the NewVoiceMedia research found.

Failure to thank customers happens at almost all points of contact throughout organizations. Most organizations have engrained it in customer service staff to say, “thank you and have a nice day” at the end of a conversation or transaction. But because it’s said so often, it so seldom comes across as sincere.

There are countless ways to make customers feel appreciated and Tom Rhoads, GM at Corbitt Manufacturing in St. Charles, MO, may  have one of the best.

Rhoades and his fellow leaders called it “Thank You Thursdays.” Every Thursday, the sales and service pros must take time to thank five different people. While they focus first on customers, the idea has grown to include colleagues, which creates a larger culture of appreciation within the company that extends more naturally to customers.

They make calls, send notes or make a visit to anyone who deserves a little extra thanks — perhaps a customer who stayed loyal, a customer who made a first or large purchase, a co-worker who helped in a crunch, a leader who showed a great work ethic at all times, etc.

A program like this across an organization can quickly build more appreciation into customer relationships. Finance can recognize and thank customers who consistently pay on time. The CEO can call long-time customers. Fulfillment and Shipping can give a shout-out to customers who always renew their order on time and don’t need to request rush delivery.

2. ‘They were rude and unprofessional’

186375662More than 40% of customers walk away after they have a run-in with a rude or unprofessional staff member.

Think about it: Just one person who is having an off day — and uses the wrong tone, language or attitude — can drive every customer he or she comes in contact with away from a business forever.

But this notion isn’t limited to snippy remarks or a lack of courtesy. Customers judge professionalism on appearances, too. They quit businesses that aren’t clean, employ salespeople who look unkempt and have websites that are cluttered and hard to navigate.

On the flip side — and this may sound shallow or politically incorrect — but appearances do matter. Customers are attracted to bright, well-kept, tidy facilities. They will spend more time with salespeople and service staff who appear professional and speak properly. They will spend more time and money on websites that are easy to navigate and easy on the eyes.

Most importantly, customers will stay with organizations where the people are nice to them. In fact, more than a third of customers prefer friendly service over having issues immediately resolved, an AchieveGlobal study found.

Two keys:

  • Give them time. Allowing customers the time they feel they need to tell their story is more valuable to relationships than a speedy response.
  • Offer more. Respond with answers and solutions, and then say, “What else can I do for you today?” so customers don’t feel rushed.

3. ‘I had to talk to so many people’

PhoneResponseAbout a third of customers get turned off by companies because they don’t like having to deal with several staff members. In other words, they don’t want their calls transferred, their requests held up waiting for “the manager’s approval” or their emails forwarded through levels of bureaucracy.

Sure, dealing with several contacts within an organization can help build stronger relationships (some customers like having a contact in Service, Sales, the C-suite and Accounting). But dealing with a lot of red tape and protocol is a different story.

Call transfers are a top frustration of customers.

To avoid them, Lori Schmidt, a business analyst at Pitney Bowes in Appleton, WI, regularly reviews a large sample of calls, listening for key terms such as “transfer” and “connect you.” Then she notes the topics that are discussed in those calls and makes them the top priority for training, asking in-house experts who might have taken the transferred calls to share knowledge and tips on where to find the information customers want without making the transfer.

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