Returning Customers – Elusive, Impossible, or Normal?

Returning Customers?

Returning Customers?

There’s always an emotional rush when you acquire new customers. They’re “taking a chance on you” and you have that all-important opportunity to make that first, and hopefully lasting, impression.

So THAT happens…..

So why don’t some first-time customers come back? This is a very important nut to crack for your business, especially since it’s always cheaper and more effective to nurture current customers than it is to have to always spend the resources needed to provide a steady stream of new customers instead. While there may be any number of reasons, four stand out:

  1. Early problems sour the relationship.
  2. You have no formal servicing system.
  3. There is communication breakdown with the decisions makers.
  4. It is easy for your customer to return to your competitor.

  • Early problems sour the relationship
Simply put, if a problem crops up in the first 3 to 6 months of the engagement or after the sale, the customer assumes that this will happen frequently and start feeling buyer’s remorse. As a first-time customer with you, you don’t have the advantage of a long and solid relationship of customer support and service to draw upon. If you have a robust system and process for rapidly and effectively addressing the issue, you have a good chance of not only fixing the current problem, but of establishing the foundation loyalty to your company and brand that can withstand many other subsequent challenges. You will need to stay on top of any other problems, though, since even the most loyal customer will have second thoughts if they start to cascade on them.
  • You have no formal servicing system
 
You may spend enormous resources (time, money…) pursuing new customers in order to make that new sale, only to see things fall apart afterwards because of a lack of follow-up. You should be doing more on behalf of that new customer than making sure their check clears the bank! If there aren’t any customer support problems, you can breathe a sigh of relief on that front. However, what kind of check-backs do you have in place to make sure they are really happy with their investment in your product or service?

It IS more than an email survey for “How’d we do?”, isn’t it?

This is about building a lasting relationship that grows into loyalty and advocacy, not a about a customer satisfaction checkbox.
  • There is communication breakdown with the decisions makers
If you business works with and sells to other businesses, you may not have much communication with the actual owners and decision makers (i.e. – the folks who sign the actual checks….). you usually end up with having all your conversations and interactions with users and technical buyers. While these folks may have input into purchases, they are not the ones responsible for retaining a supplier (that would be YOU!). As communications with the decision maker weaken, your role as supplier is at risk. Additionally, if a key decision maker leaves the company and is replaced, there is a chance that the new person may make the decision to change suppliers unless you undertake consistent communication and relationship maintenance. It is up to you to keep the relationship vital and valuable to the customer.
  • It is easy for your customer to return to your competitor
If your business replaced one of your competitors, but that competitor is delivering a product or service elsewhere in the company, you are at risk. Find out what’s going on around you, both in your industry and at the customer, and then double down on the relationship. What is it that your customer finds valuable about doing business with you, above all else? More of that…..

What is the primary reason you don’t see more repeat business?

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