When you get a customer on board, it is your responsibility to fulfill the commitments you made at the time of the sale. If you don't, your customers will soon start regretting their decision and might ultimately switch to your competitors. Research indicates that a customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related.
But many customers never even tell you about their problem. They wait for you to approach them and then silently go away. In fact, studies suggest that for every customer complaint, there are 26 other unhappy customers who remain silent.
Here’s why this is important for your business (source)
It costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than retaining an existing one.
Dissatisfied customers whose complaints are taken care of are more likely to remain loyal, and even become advocates.
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%
A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%
A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience.
So how do you identify such customers, address their issues and stop them from leaving?
Here are 7 warning signs that your customer regrets choosing you and is likely to leave you for a competitor.
1) The Customer Complains Frequently
Many service experts consider complaints a sign of customer engagement. It shows that the customer has hope in your company and wants you to sort out things for him. But when the complaining gets too frequent, it signals towards the customer’s increasing frustration.
Customers complain frequently because,
Their problems are not being addressed properly.
They have a recurring problem.
They are perpetual complainers/whiners.
Irrespective of the reason, every unresolved complaint tests the patience of your customers and takes them closer to your competitors. So if you identify a customer who’s complaining too frequently, address his issues now because he’s likely to leave you for your competitors.
2) He Stops Engaging With You
Frequently complaining customers are bad. But do you know who’s worse? Customers who don’t complain at all. In fact, they don’t even bother responding to your emails. They simply stop engaging with you because they lose hope in your services.
Studies suggest that for every 1 customer complaint, there are 26 unhappy customers who never speak up. These are usually the ones who wait for you to contact them. But when you don’t, they simply stop using your product.
I once worked with an online B2B marketplace website, with more than 7 million registered users, which helped connect buyers and suppliers. A staggering 40% of their users had not logged into their accounts for more than 6 months. Almost 35% of them were premium customers using paid accounts. A deeper research revealed that many of them had defected to the company’s closest competitors, AliBaba.com.
So any customers who’ve stopped responding to your emails, calls, surveys and other modes of engagement are probably in negotiations with your competitors and about to make the switch.
3) He Doesn't Remember Your Name
Almost 68% of customers in the US leave a service provider because they are upset with the treatment they received while speaking to one of its services agents.
Customer service is not just about resolving complaints and fixing problems. It has a much deeper impact on your relationship with the clients.
Once a sale is made and the customer gets on board, your service agent becomes his primary contact point. It is the agent’s responsibility to build a relationship with the client and become his trusted ally in the company. The customer should know his primary contact person by name and should always bank on him to resolve his problems.
But if a client doesn’t know anyone in your company by name, it clearly means that he has not been engaged properly and, as a result, does not have any relationship with your company.
4) He Regularly Compares You with Competitors
Thanks to the internet, and a seemingly endless choice of service providers, consumers are quite well-informed these days. They have a fair idea of how you compare with your competitors, and what benefits they’re getting by choosing you.
However, when a client repeatedly cites examples of how the other companies are doing a better job, alarm bells should start ringing. Loyal customers keep you on your toes in terms of your service standards, but they never give you the impression that they’re leaving.
The repeated mention of your competitors, means that your service standards are either not up to the mark, or your relationship with the client has become weak.
If you don’t get your act together, such clients are likely to leave you.
5) He Doesn't Care About Discounts and Special Offers
Who doesn’t like discounts and freebies? Promotional emails with special discount offers usually get the highest open rate. But when your client starts ignoring your promotional messages as well, there’s something seriously wrong in your relationship.
This indicates that the client has lost interest in your services and believes that they are not worth using even at a discounted rate. This usually happens when a client remains disengaged from your services for a long time, either because of poor product performance or a bad service experience.
Have you ever come across a client who just doesn’t want to take to anyone from your company, not even the CEO?
This happens when you repeatedly under-deliver or fail to honor your commitments with the client. This is usually the last stage of client dissatisfaction where he loses all hope in your services and starts approaching your competitors for better solutions.
If you’ve let the situation reach this stage, your only hope of getting another chance is to offer something tangible that delivers an immediate value to the client.
7) He Frequently Refers To Your Contract Terms
Successful relationships are about mutual understanding, trust and care. Customer relationships are no different.
But when your clients reach a stage where they have to repeatedly refer to your service contract to get assistance, you know the trust is no longer there.
Again, this is down to poor customer service. According to studies conducted by Gartner and Harris, 85% of customers remain dissatisfied even after a phone conversation with a service agent. While more than 50% service agents fail to resolve the customer’s query in the first call.
Such experiences lead to dissatisfaction which, if left unattended, can turn into a permanent source of mistrust between you and your customers.
Customer churn is a natural phenomenon and companies with even the highest service standards are affected by it. However, if you can identify the reasons why your clients feel cheated, lose trust in your services and ultimately defect to your competitors, you can reduce this churn to a great extent. If you see any of these seven symptoms in your clients, make sure you address them properly so that their feeling of regret can be replaced by gratitude.
Jawad Khan is an experienced project manager, a content marketing consultant and a freelance blogger for hire. He's an active consultant to several tech startups and SaaS companies in the US, Middle East and Australia. Follow him on his blog Writing My Destiny, Twitter and Google+