Customer Experience News & Trends

At-risk customers: How to spot and save them

A salesperson receives a phone call from a customer expecting business as usual, only to learn the previously-happy customer is shifting business to a competitor. It’s a scenario that happens too often in business today.

What creates loyalty?

According to a recent survey, 80% of customers who switched suppliers were satisfied with their existing supplier at the time, but circumstances or another salesperson motivated them to switch.

On the other hand, customers who felt the salesperson they’ve worked with in the past stood out from the pack were 10 to 15 times more likely to stay loyal to their existing supplier.

The survey concluded that salvaging at-risk customers is possible with the right follow-up program in place.

The first rule is to keep in touch. Call to find out if customers have any challenges that need to be met and how you can help. Find out if the results they achieved from recent purchases were what the customers expected.

Identifying at-risk customers

Customer surveys can be useful in spotting customers who are showing signs of unhappiness with your products or services. But no one is in a better position to pick up early signs of dissatisfaction than a salesperson who deals with the customer on a one-one-one basis. Clues like declining orders, lack of customer enthusiasm or difficulty in getting appointments are early signs of customer dissatisfaction.

Four types

Customers may be placed in one of four categories when it comes to retention:

  1. Truly loyal. Customers who have every intention of continuing to do business with you and have a positive attitude toward you.
  2. Accessible. Customers who seem to have a good attitude about working with you, but the accounts are at risk because something has changed or a problem has developed.
  3. Trapped. Customers who show every indication of continuing to do business with you, but they’re not happy about it. They feel trapped in their relationship. Unless you do something to change this attitude, the business will probably be lost.
  4. High risk. Customers who plan to drop you as soon as they can find a suitable replacement. While they’re the easiest to spot, they’re the most difficult to retain.

Six steps to save them

Here are six steps that will help salvage at-risk customers:

  1. Set alerts. It’s a good idea to set up triggers that will pinpoint at-risk customers. Alerts should be triggered every time a customer complains about poor quality or service, or unacceptable performance in a specific area. Customers are five times more likely to switch vendors because of service complaints than they are because of price or quality.
  2. Demonstrate a “we’re here to solve your problem attitude.” Surveys show that almost 70% of customers switch because a salesperson didn’t show enough interest when a problem developed. By responding quickly to one of your triggers, you can handle minor complaints before they turn into major problems. Whether you take immediate action after a complaint is usually the determining factor when it comes to helping the customer decide to stay with or leave a supplier.
  3. Don’t take customer loyalty for granted. The key to customer loyalty is not just what product you deliver, but how you deliver support for the customer. Meeting your customer’s expectations is not enough. Customers want to know you care. They want you to make them feel important.
  4. If a mistake has been made, admit it right away. Don’t try to cover up mistakes with excuses. Customers know what’s going on and the experience will cast doubt on your credibility. Once you admit the mistake, start talking about solving the problem.
  5. Be flexible. The following four words are loyalty killers: “But that’s our procedure.” Communicate your flexibility whenever possible.
  6. Focus on building “individual” relationships with each customer. They want to feel they’re doing business with you, an individual, and not just your company. Try to determine what each customer values most so you are able to satisfy their expectations.

When good service is experienced by customers, they’re much more likely to do business with you again. Retention, referrals and repeat business all increase when customer expectations of service are met.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest customer experience news and insights delivered to your inbox.