Business Sales September 18, 2014

How to Lose a Customer in 10 Days


Have you ever been seen the film “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”? The premise of it is pretty simple. A journalist is challenged to do everything she can to make her new boyfriend break-up with her. Trying, in effect, to lose a guy in 10 days.

What has this got to do with it? Well think about the last time you were disappointed by a company’s customer service. Whether it’s logistical complications, difficulties getting a straight answer or downright rudeness, it can sometimes feel like companies are doing everything they can to make you take your custom elsewhere.

While we are all quick to notice customer service failing in other organisations, we don’t always notice internal issues until it’s too late. It might be longer than 10 days, but eventually customers will get so frustrated that they take their business somewhere else. Identifying these traits and correcting them as early as possible will help you to keep your customers engaged and happy.

  1.  Focusing on your new customers at the expense of your existing ones

    When new business comes in, it’s natural to focus your energy and attention here.  But there is a serious risk, if you don’t have the structures and processes in place, that your existing customers lose out when new business comes in.

     If you are spending less time focusing on them, there is a risk your current customers will think you don’t appreciate their business anymore and will look for someone else who does.

    There are ways around this. Having a separate team to work with existing customers means that they are not distracted by new business. Another option is to run special offers or loyalty schemes that apply to your current customer base. This will show you still value their custom and want to thank them for their loyalty to your company. 
  1. Promising something that you can’t deliver on time

    When the pressure is on, it can be tempting to say something that will make the customer happy in the short term.

    You’re probably familiar with the example of a delivery time. If you’re told your parcel will be a week and it takes 5 days, you’re pleasantly surprised because the service exceeded your expectations. But if you were assured it would come the next day and you don’t get it for 3 days, then you’ll be disappointed in the service.

    Setting the expectations and having realistic timescales for completing work means that you’re not putting undue pressure on your team to deliver against an unworkable promise. Plus, you’re customers aren’t left disappointed by not getting the product or service when they expected to receive it. 
  1.  Accepting work that isn’t in your specialism

    How many times have you been asked “Do you also do X?” It’s natural when customers trust your expertise and are happy with your products and services to date that they’ll turn to you for help in similar areas.  Sometimes this is an excellent opportunity to upsell.

    But there are other times when it doesn’t fit with what you do. Here’s an example. Imagine you’re an interior designer firm, specialising in office buildings. You get the offer to work on a new restaurant. Now this could be a service you also provide. Or it could be something that is outside your expertise.

    The real danger of accepting work that isn’t in your area of expertise is finding that you can’t deliver it to your normal standard. This leaves a previously happy customer disappointed because their expectations haven’t been met.

    While you shouldn’t point blank refuse opportunities to expand into new markets, reflecting on the plausibility of the work before you accept it can save you and your customers a lot of aggravation further down the line. 
  1. Being difficult to reach when something is going wrong

    Mistakes happen. While this in itself is annoying for your customers, what is much worse is being difficult to contact during this time.

    If your customers are aware you have an understanding of the problem, know the steps that you are going to take to rectify it and the progress you are making, it reassures them that you are doing everything you can to correct the mistake.

    When you can’t be contacted, it makes your customers more likely to worry about the situation. Even if you are working on the problem, without communicating this to your customers, they are not going to know what is happening.

These are just a few things to be aware of with your own customer service, so you can retain those customers and keep them happy, hopefully for a lot longer than 10 days.

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