6 Primary Reasons why ALL Customers Leave

Nobody wants to hear a customer complaining, right?

I sincerely hope you strongly disagreed. A complaint is a customer asking the company to save them from leaving and to keep them as a customer. It’s easy to make a customer smile when they are handing over money but complaints are the company’s true opportunity to convert customers into engaged apostles.

There are essentially six categories for why your customers leave, though, the specific complaints are infinite.

The key point is, if you never hear the complaint, the opportunity to save that customer is gone, along with the customer. More importantly, other customers will be lost unless you identify and resolve the cause of the complaint.

A “White House Office on Consumer Affairs” report cites that for every one customer that complains about an issue, twenty-six don’t. Very few people enjoy conflict or have the time or energy for it so that’s the tip of an enormous iceberg that has the potential of sinking a company if those customers aren’t replaced.  How much business is lost when twenty-six of your customers leave? I emphasized when because they are leaving. Without a formal Customer Experience process in place, the company doesn’t have a clue that it is losing customers.

I wrote earlier that there are six essential categories for why customers leave. The bad news (or good depending on how you view it) is that  “complaints” account for only 14% of the reasons. First category:

Customers are dissatisfied with your product or service offering.

To capture those complaints, your company needs a formal customer feedback process to improve your primary offering.

Three other categories make up 9% of why customers leave;

  • They die (1%)
  • They move away (3%)
  • A friend/family member provides the service (5%)

At least it’s a small percentage that you can’t to anything about.

The next group makes up nine percent;

Your competition lures away your customers.

A company can clearly take action here if you know what your competition is doing. So find out!

If you’re doing the math, I’ve listed five categories but only explained why 32% of customers leave a company, 9% of which you can’t do anything about.

That leaves 68% of customers leaving for one single, ridiculously preventable reason.

Indifference: in·dif·fer·ence (noun); lack of interest, concern, or sympathy.

Customers WILL silently  go away if they feel like you don’t care about them.  Why silently? Because a bad experience is not always the cause so there is nothing to complain about. In simple terms, they left because they simply didn’t feel warm and fuzzy  … and that’s not silly, so don’t roll your eyes.

They weren’t angry  (some may have been) but they weren’t wowed and whatever instilled this “perception” could have happened before, during or after the sale.

Think about what makes YOU feel good as customer. For me it’s often little things like acknowledging I’m there (that’s a big one); being friendly and courteous; paying attention; answering the phone professionally with your name; calling me at a specified time or notifying when a deliverable changed.  For me, poor communication and improperly setting my expectations are deadly mistakes. I’ll be blogging on industry specific articles dedicated to setting client expectations.

Employee interaction with a customer is not the only aspect to impact the customer experience. There are also “things” that can create a feeling of indifference.  Clean facilities/bathrooms/waiting rooms are a small example of things that have an impact on the customer experience.

Your entire company has many things that impact the whole customer experience, which, begin the moment the customer arrives on your site and then surrounds them. Things, because there are so many,  can have a greater impact than interaction with people so do not underestimate even the smallest of things. Look around your place of business and any place where you do business.

Management’s challenge is building a company culture that will deliver its vision of the Customer Experience. Hopefully, it has a good vision so that the entire company is inspired to act as one to wow the customer whether through relationships or keeping things in good order.

Building this level of culture requires training or retraining people and often starting with management. A game-changing culture requires its managers to lead the way and treat employees as great as it treats its clients. By the way, good employees also silently go away.

If a company wants to grow, it’s imperative to check every aspect of the Customer Experience by talking to the customers AND the employees. There are many tools, which I will discuss in coming posts,  to get the feedback a company needs to decide, honestly,  where its Customer Experience really stands. Take note that relying solely on technology is a mistake. It may seem easier and cheaper but you get what you pay for. Technology can’t replace a sincere team member. Well, not yet and hopefully never.

So, let me ask again: Nobody wants to hear a customer complaining, right?

-Please read my other posts for ways to help improve your company’s customer service and share it if you’ve found it helpful.


About the Author

Gerry Criscenzo, founder of Advanced Service Knowledge is passionate about delivering an exceptional customer experience.  He has over 30 years experience managing customer facing teams in very demanding customer service  industries such as automotive services, IT Services and Home Remodeling/Contractor Services. Gerry is available for consulting, keynote speaking and training.  Read more

Please feel free to comment or A.S.K. for topics that you would like covered.

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