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    Customer loyalty tips: What not to do

    Anneli Knight
    Smarter Writer

    Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

    Anneli Knight
    Smarter Writer

    Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

    We all want the best products and a high level of service. If these expectations aren’t met, don’t expect to see a customer again. Here are four behaviours that will make you lose a customer forever.

    Simon Blair from customer experience measurement and coaching agency, Five Degrees, says customers enter transactions with a high degree of goodwill.

    “All we want as customers is for an experience to be positive, with our need or our issue being efficiently resolved the first time we pick up the phone, walk into a store or go online,” explains Simon.

    “What triggers a customer leaving forever is if you make them feel high emotions. It starts with concern, goes to frustration, starts to build towards anger, or upset, and depending on context, onto a higher scale.”

    Keeping customers happy is all about good relationship management, and sometimes your staff might not even realise their words or behaviours are making customers see red. Part of Simon’s approach is working with businesses to coach staff to change ingrained habits that risk driving your customers away.

    Here are four things that will make you lose a customer forever.

    Customer Loyalty graphic

    1. Showing no desire to get the customer’s business

    We’ve all had that experience. You walk into a shop and no-one takes any notice of you, or you jump online and keep getting lost on the site or technical glitches mean you can’t check out successfully.

    Simon says while there’s the cliché of the insincere super-pushy salesman, the number one reason businesses miss sales opportunities is the opposite: because of staff apathy.

    The reason you lose this customer forever is simple: “You don’t even get the chance to have this customer in the first place,” says Simon.

    2. Be too slow, continually

    Speed of service is fundamental and businesses must get this right. We all have expectations around what that means, depending on the industry and the product, says Simon.

    “We are actually very, very patient as consumers but there’s a breaking point. If you’re an existing customer and every time you need assistance – which is what service is – if something’s gone wrong, or you need a change, if other companies deliver it a hell of a lot quicker, customers will often switch to take up that option,” says Simon.

    And that’s another customer lost to the competition forever.

    3. Don’t take responsibility when you mess up

    Customers are incredibly forgiving if you’re upfront and honest when you make a mistake. But deny it, or even worse, blame the customer, and that’s a customer out the door for good.

    “When you mess up, these are moments of truth. If something goes wrong and you need someone to fix it, what happens in that moment is make or break, and it’s about trust,” says Simon.

    “If the cost – both the monetary spend and the emotional investment – is no longer worth the benefit your customer is deriving from the product or service, that’s when they’ll look at other options and other companies,” says Simon.

    “When the trust is broken because of the human element, ‘forever’ kicks in.”

    4. Only ever treat your customer as a transaction or useful commodity

    Customers are willing to give up a certain level of quality of product or service in exchange for fulfilling human interaction.

    “Ultimately what customers want with any business interaction is real conversations with real people. People are sick and tired of disingenuous scripts and the PR line. Don’t spin, it doesn’t work,” says Simon.

    If you go to a coffee shop every day because the coffee is great but the staff never smile and don’t remember you or your order, then you’ll likely migrate to the friendly barista you find down the road, if the coffee is almost as good, says Simon.

    Verdict

    It's all about relationships. When it comes to training your staff to keep customers delighted, there are those who get it and those who just don’t, explains Simon. “We find when we’re coaching and training staff, the ones with natural empathy can be your super stars,” says Simon. Putting the others forward might be risking your business having a few too many customers lost forever.

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