That was it.
She didn’t ask where we were sending him or why we chose another school over theirs. She didn’t offer to keep us on an email list in an effort to recruit us back when he was a little older. Nothing. She just said goodbye.
It felt so wrong. A relationship that should have lasted 6 years was cut short with a quick phone call and the lady on the other end of the line just accepted it cheerfully. It was like breaking up with someone and them just saying, “Alrighty then” and walking away without giving it a second thought. And I lamented to my husband that a business would never handle losing a customer that way.
But as I thought about it some more, it dawned on me that that is exactly what some businesses do… too many businesses.
We’ve all had experiences where the organizations we’ve done business with just let us slip away as customers. This kind of experience is forgettable at best and alienating at worst. Simply put, when a company lets its customers leave without trying to save them, it can permanently destroy any chance at a future relationship. Additionally, letting customers leave without trying to understand why they’re leaving and where they’re going wastes a wonderful opportunity to improve.
Start an Open Dialogue
Ideally, a company will have the kind of relationships in place that make talking to its customers (especially its most valuable customers) natural. In this kind of scenario, starting a dialogue demonstrates respect and conveys value that is likely to bring customers back in the future if their circumstances change or the business can respond to their critiques. Additionally, it helps identify areas for improvement across everything from product development to customer service to pricing.
Strategically Collect Information
For businesses that don’t have strong relationships with their customers, or whose customers are more reticent, other strategies can be used, such as:
- Keeping email and call records and/or internal account notes to detail each interaction
- Requiring customers to answer exit questions when canceling a service or unsubscribing
- Tracking new provider details if data or information must be transferred to another provider
- Following up with former customers after a period of inactivity to assess their current needs
Don’t go overboard though! Pestering your current and former customers won’t endear you to them. In fact, it may do just the opposite – pushing them away for good.
When you do ask for information, reward providing it. Offer customers that are canceling an incentive to come back and reward current customers for their engagement with exclusive content and other goodies like premium support, top fan badges, discounts, and gifts.
Ask Before They Want to Leave
The best time to gather information about why people leave and who they go to when they do so is actually before they want to leave. Implementing regular customer satisfaction surveys is a great way to gauge the effectiveness of your business operations and sentiment around your offerings and the brand itself. Surveys can be sent periodically, presented to website users in a pop-up, offered after a live chat session, or automatically emailed out after a customer service call or email resolution.
Leverage Your Sales Team
While feedback is best received from the horse’s mouth, you don’t necessarily need to bother your customers to get information about what’s most important to them and where they have reservations about your products or services. Your sales team likely has a ton of information they can provide about what’s important to your customers, what confuses them about your offerings, what their chief concerns are, and which of your competitors they’re also considering. In lieu of direct feedback, this information from the frontlines is the next best thing.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging, and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and two children and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!