The success of every business, whether profit or non profit based is very closely linked to the customers it is able to get and keep. Customers are the backbone of every business. As a matter of fact, they are the primary reason why the business started and exists. All over the world, there are so many businesses, start-ups, small and even big businesses struggling with the issue of acquiring and keeping customers. Many business owners, and indeed even those who’s businesses have been around for a while still find themselves baffled by the difficulty involved in getting and keeping customers. We are not basically going to talk about how to get and keep customers, though you are going to learn a lot about that from here.
When you start a business and its up and running for a few weeks or months, you will definitely realize, perhaps to your dismay that some customers seem to be passers-by and others seem to just be programmed to stay. If you did adequate reading and research on business progress and prosperity, you will of course not be surprised to find out that some customers do not stay. However it is a problem you have to be prepared to handled and one of the best ways to get prepared is to know WHY some customers stay with a business and why others don’t.
Understanding reasons why customers stay with a businesses
There are always reasons why certain things happen. We are living a world with causes and effects. You need to know why customers stay with a business in order to get and keep those who come in contact with your business too.
Quality products and services
Customers always have varieties to chose from. There are always alternatives to the products and services they get from a particular business. If they consistently receive the best quality of products and services from a particular business, they will definitely stay with that business. But when they receive poor customer service and goods, you can’t expect them to stay. Businesses that aim just at making sales and care little about the quality they are offering would find it difficult getting or even keeping customers. The quality of products and services offered determines the level of satisfaction that can be gotten from the goods and services offered by the said business. Summarily, customers stay with a business because of the quality of products and services they get from it. Quality makes happy customers and happy customers are always willing to stay with the business that satisfies them. Making every necessary effort to keep delivering quality is a good way to prevent even poor customer care.
For loyalty’s sake
A good number of customers stay with a business simply because they have been using its goods and services for some time and feel connected to the brand somehow. This group of people may be influenced by some form of personal attachment they have with the business. It could be because they have been receiving benefits like hire purchases or price reductions for the past years. Such offers get customers attached to certain business and it is usually difficult to change their minds even when they experience poor customer service or have better alternatives that present themselves.
Loyalty to a business could also be as a result of the fact that the business name or brand is famous and customers just want to relate with it because of its popularity. So even retail customer services have to deal with caution in order to maintain the business name.
Sometimes, for whatever reasons, the prices of some business’ products and services become very unstable. The worse thing about the whole issue is the fact that these price changes are almost always increases. First of all, when the prices of a particular business’ goods and services are lower than those of alternatives, customers are more likely to stay with that business. Secondly, if the business has a pricing policy that limits frequent fluctuations in prices, customers will prefer staying with the business than walking off to alternatives.
A stable pricing policy eliminates uncertainties. Generally, customers don’t like uncertainties, especially when it comes to price changes. It makes financial planing more complicated. Customers stay longer and easily become loyal to businesses that have stable prices. Even if you are going to do some changes in prices, you must ensure that your loyal customers know about it ahead of time and the reason why you are making the changes. You cant have happy customers with abrupt price increases and if they are dissatisfied, you can begin to expect their loyalty to go to another business. Businesses that have retail customer services have to ensure that prices are unnecessarily increased because retailers are trying to make profits.
Quality customer services
If the quality of services offered by a business are up to the standards customers expect or at least appreciate they are going to stay with the business. On the other hand, nothing turns them away like poor customer service. When ever a new customer comes in contact with a business, the business management must understand that the customer has certain expectations. If those expectations are not met, it would be difficult for them to stay. And while we talk about expectations, you must understand that these expectations begin with the way they are going to be treated by those who represent the business at different levels. Poor treatment of customers directly translates to poor customer care.
Lets start with the attitude of a business’ representatives towards customers. Everyone who works for a business at one level or the other is a representative of the business and they all have a great role to play as far as the quality of customer service gotten is concerned. When customers come in contact with such business representatives and have a negative experience, it pushes them away. This is one reason why businesses have to be really careful about the attitude of their workers. If your workers can’t be patient with unhappy customers or even do their best to make sure they are relieved by the time they leave the business premises, then you will hardly be able to keep those who come.
Then we have other services like sales, delivery, follow-up and even the possibility of returning the products gotten from a business if they are not satisfied with it or if there is any malfunction. Money back policy for goods that do not meet standards or deliver according the customer’s expectation is one very powerful move businesses and retail customer services around the world are using to keep customers these days. Once people are sure that they are going to have great sales and after sales benefits, especially the possibility of getting their money back if they made a bad choice, they would definitely stay with that business.
Why others don’t
You may have come to realize that a good number of customers don’t stay with your business and you are lost as to how you should deal with the issue. First you have to realize why they do not stay and make necessary corrections from that vantage point. The reasons why customers don’t stay range from bad customer experience to poor quality products and other such issues which result to a number of unhappy customers. We are going to look into some reasons why some customers do not stay with some businesses in the following lines.
No follow-up customer services
You see, to keep customers, you must go after them to show them that you are not just after their money but also want to see them satisfied. When customers come in contact with your brand for the first time or two, you should never take their initial visit or purchase for granted. Taking first time customers for granted will be evident in the bad customer experience that will definitely follow. The common saying “customer is the king” is indeed true, and believe me, customers know this too and expect to be treated like kings. As if that is not enough, they could sometimes get very dissatisfied if they are not treated specially and with honor.
A business that does not follow up to make sure its customers are satisfied is one which is close to giving poor customer services or poor customer care.
Some customers act like prostitutes looking for someone to settle down with. What they require to settle down with you may be that you show some concern. And follow-up service is an important way to do that. Pathetically, most businesses ignore this. Some have gotten a certain number of customers and are finding it difficult to keep them because they have ignored the importance of follow-up services. Follow up services for customers have to be extended right up to retail customer services. Customers are looking for businesses with customer services that can value their loyalty and make the sacrifices necessary to get and keep it.
Loyalty taken for granted
This one is usually a big problem for businesses that have attained a certain level of success and have been able to get and keep a commendable customer base. Such business get carried away, sometimes because they think it would be difficult for competitors to meet up or even pose any reasonable challenge to them. At the end of the day, such businesses may continue doing some of those things they have been doing to get and keep customer loyalty, but then, they do it with such laxity that undermines their efforts and intentions.
You can easily know when a business is taking customer loyalty for granted but more importantly customers too will know when that happens. Customer loyalty taken for granted is a powerful reason why most of them don’t stay with business. A service or product provider for example may start withdrawing certain benefits they have been offering to customers without any good reason but the fact that the business does not think the service is important any more since they have a good number of customers already. When the loyalty of customers is taken for granted, there is bound to be poor customer care as well bad customer experience because of the laxity.
Like I already mentioned, customers can always tell when their loyalty is taken for granted and of course you are going to loose that loyalty.
Innovations are a vital part of any business and an important link between the business and its customers. Customers fall in love with a business that leads in innovation and they easily pledge their loyalty to such businesses. This is especially so for products and services that have one thing or the other to do with upgrades and frequent development, especially technological ones. This is part of staying relevant to the customer and especially doing so while giving no chance for some other business to take the place your business’ products and services have in the customer’s heart.
Lets take the industry of mobile technology as an example. Any business within this industry that does not do what it must to keep in step with the technological upgrades that happen within the industry is one that simply cant keep customers.
Technology is gradually being integrated into everything in the world. It is going to be a totally smart world soon. We already have smart TV sets, smart cookers, smart washers, cars, and of course mobile phones. It seems to be a mad race to get everything connected to the Internet and easier to use. Any business that lags a considerable distance behind in this race would find itself running without customers because almost everyone who joins them would have little or no reasons to stay. Slow innovation brings about bad customer experiences. Few things would cause customers to abandon a business like slow innovation.
Poor attitude from management and employees
Like we have already established, customers cherish and hold dearly to the idea that they are kings. It is partly the reason why they always expect to be treated like royals when they chose to pledge their loyalty to a particular business. After all there are so many others they can always run to. Poor attitude of reception from management and employees of a business portrays poor customer services and is one reason why some customers do not stay with certain business even wen they may have been very interested from the onset.
Nothing tells the value and respect you have for your customers like your attitude towards them. A poor attitude tells customers you don’t care how they feel or about their satisfaction. It is important to note, as a business man or woman that your business has a large number of customers who are loyal to it because of their satisfaction with the way they are treated and your commitment to meeting their needs. It is sad to note here that some businesses keep a good attitude towards their customers only for as long as they think they need those customers. That is usually when they are still growing and trying to get as many customers as possible. Once they have a considerably large customer base, they begin to take it for granted and you can always see that the value management and other employees have for customers is dropping as you watch their attitude towards the customers they once honored begin to waver. It actually gets so bad sometimes, even sales men and other employees who hold very “humble” positions within the company begin to show clear disregard towards customers in their attitudes and behavior. It is indeed one of the biggest reasons why customers leave certain businesses for others.
The availability of other choices
If there were no alternatives, it would be unthinkable for customers to leave certain businesses. But that is not the case. It is difficult to stay a monopoly these days even if you started out as one. People have become more bold and motivated towards starting businesses and the enormous information freely available on the subject has made starting and running businesses quite a common phenomenon. But it is not so when it comes to getting and keeping customers.
Bottom line is, there are almost always alternatives to every business and those alternatives are potential threats, no matter how small they may be. So long as a particular business’ goods and services could be substituted for yours, your customers have other choices to fall back on when you disappoint them or supply below expectation. The mere presence of these alternatives is a very strong reason why customers don’t stay with some businesses. This calls for more diligence when one has competitors around. Make it your aim to give your customers no reason to pay attention to other options that may be calling for their attention.
How you can keep customers
In the midst of all these challenges to get and keep customers, you can actually make a difference and keep those you get. It is simply about knowing the right things to do and applying those steps and principles.
Let your business be committed to research
In a business world that is going crazy about trends and keeping in step with developments and upgrades in the quality of goods and services offered, it is important to note that only those who commit themselves to research would actually get and successfully keep customers. For one thing, research keeps a business ahead of competitors and gives it a competing advantage that is both necessary and vital to getting and more importantly keeping customers. In order to minimize the number of people who leave your business and maximize those who stay, you need to stay ahead by wielding the power of research.
Research is perhaps the most important way to stay updated on the changes in needs and preferences of your customers and it helps the business avoid poor customer care. It helps your forecast and decides what changes to make in other to stay relevant, hence get and keep customers in the long run. You can also get information on customer responses from retail customer services when necessary. This will definitely provide vital information. If you make it a habit to put adequate resources into research, you are going to get better not just at getting customers but also at keeping them.
After carrying out necessary research, it is time to take action. Make improvements and corrections that count towards getting and keeping customers based on the knowledge you acquire from research. Even with former bad customer experiences, it is possible to get and keep them if you take the necessary steps to improve. Keep improving. The business must be committed to getting and improving on its knowledge about the market and its customers first, then take action towards making changes where they are necessary. Innovation is the watchword when we talk about a business improving. If you are going to get and keep customers, you must never get to the point where you are satisfied with the level of achievement attained. Be committed to making product quality, customer service and experience better as often as possible. If this becomes your aim and focus, it will indeed be difficult to loose customers.
Seek the customer first before his or her money
Maybe this should have been written at the top or in bold. The most successful business men in the world have learnt and are practicing this golden business rule capable of helping every business get and keep its customers. The first problem most business have is the fact that those who run the business do so with the wrong mindset or perspective. To them it is all about getting as much money as possible from those they are supposed to be serving. They could hardly be more mistaken in taking this approach. At the end of the day, the number of customers you are able to get and keep will depend on your understanding of the points explained above and your application of the same.