In today’s crippling economic situation, losing customers would be fatal for any business already struggling to survive. Even before the crisis, billions of dollars in revenue are lost every year in the U.S. due to poor customer service, a bad experience or unmet product / service expectations. With the cost to acquire new business 6-7 times more than to retain an existing one, you cannot afford to IGNORE customers and adapt quickly to their needs. Moreover, it pays to focus on customer experience – research shows that just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75% (Bain&Co).
In this article, we’ll show you the five most important triggers that cause consumers to react negatively or worse ‘stop doing business with you all together’. Consumer triggers or preconditioned responses that are typically based on values, previous experiences and/or expectations of the brand’s promises.
Some of these triggers were learned growing up and others are simply based on our environment and what we’ve experienced from other brands that set the bar. Not only that, but customer experience (CX) is now one of the top reasons why people buy and remain loyal, even over price. And, research shows that consumers spend more for a great experience. In fact, only 26% leave over high price, but a hefty 74% will leave over bad service. Sadly, after all the work to get a client and make them happy, ONLY 12% will give you another shot once they’ve had a bad experience!
Your reputation and revenue growth are at stake. Knowing these triggers arms you and your staff with an arsenal to prevent client attrition that you so desperately cannot afford.
Preparing to Protect Your Base and Avoid Customer Attrition
In short order, consumers will most likely cut spending drastically in the near future – causing some products and services to be seen as a luxury NOT a necessity. Consumers will be extremely motivated to NOT spend where customer service and experience aren’t top notch. This puts consumers in the driver’s seat. They will hold the keys to their wallets and will analyze every purchase with scrutiny. One absolute defense strategy and easiest to implement is to provide a great customer experience.
"For this strategy to work, you’ll have to analyze your business, listen carefully to customers and adapt quickly!"
Without 100% commitment to meeting your customers’ expectations, needs and values – you could stand to lose even more than you already have. Research shows, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customers FEEL they are being treated (McKinsey 2015) not just on satisfaction of product delivery alone.
Losing customers to bad service is just NOT SMART business; yet so many companies are failing to meet this standard. A recent study shows that consumers feel that products and services don’t meet their expectation 87% of the time; while businesses only feel that number is 12%. That is a HUGE gap. The only logical conclusion for this gap is that companies and leaders are NOT LISTENING TO their CUSTOMERS!
Failure is not an option and can easily be avoided by learning these triggers – not to mention, it’s a great place to start if you are reexamining your business to drive growth in the near future. There are other critical pivot strategies you should consider including that you can read here: Meeting Customer Demands and New Buying Behavior, Communicating Effectively with Appropriate Messages and Innovating Your Business Model.
Consumer Triggers to Avoid at All Cost
Trigger #1: OUR POLICY
As we continue to educate businesses and leaders heavily in customer experience strategy, having an ‘our policy’ attitude will cause consumers to rebel now more than ever. For instance, late fees, contract guidelines, strict cancellations or penalties, etc… these policies will not only put you in an unfavorable light with you customer, but worse, you could be the first to be on the chopping block.
It’s not worth losing the lifetime value of a client (LTV) over policies that are either outdated, inappropriate or flat out wrong for the current climate. You should review your ‘policy’ requirements in all categories to ensure they meet the customer’s expectation and pass the ‘satisfaction sniff’ test. More importantly, make sure you check out special techniques in ‘wording’ your responses. Sometimes all that you need to change is a HOW you respond rather than CHANGE the policy.
Trigger #2: WE CAN’T
Even if just temporarily, you’ll have to become more creative than ever in providing solutions that meet new buying expectations. The most important thing to remember is to have a ‘YES’ mindset. We analyze to many teams that immediately say we can’t or NO – when truthfully there are options. It goes without saying that businesses must remain profitable and efficient – that’s why most organizations have policies and systems in place. And we know, it’s near impossible to meet every customer need and want while being effective and efficient at the same time.
But in the interim, you’ll have to find new ways to solve customer problems. Saying “you can’t, NO or I’m not authorized” in times like these could be a deal killer.
You’ll have to equip and arm your staff with multiple solutions they can use to satisfy customers. In some cases, this problem boils down to preparation and training. Your team simply isn’t prepared to handle all scenarios. So, we suggest making a list of STOPS and objections. From there, you can articulate responses, in advance, for everyone to practice in order to respond with consideration, empathy and respect for the customer’s needs and wants.
Trigger #3: PLEASE HOLD
Making consumers WAIT instantly triggers frustration. It simply will not be tolerated in the new economy. Delaying service or not solving problems quickly will cause customers to reduce their spending or stop doing business with you. And for what? Just because they were impatient? Right, wrong or indifferent – the result is devastating for your business.
Often, we make the process difficult for customers without even realizing it. This leaves a bad impression and they actively look for a competitor that will value them and demonstrate that value at a greater level. You can avoid this by preparing your team. Look for new technology, policies and training that can help train your team to efficiently handle calls. Simplify your processes – make doing business with you so easy that your customers want to call, come back and give referrals even in desperate times.
Let’s face it, customers have little patience right now. Understandably they are anxious, confused and dealing with more changes than at any other time in life. This is an opportunity to connection a deeper level with your client. Think of it this way… you can be the hero at a time that seems grim and bleak for most people.
Aggressively serving your customer will pay off!
Trigger #4: UNFORTUNATELY / BUT…
Make sure your team is well advised and trained not to say the word BUT or UNFORTUNATLEY. It happens all too often when dealing with difficult client situations. Customer service reps become confrontational when they aren’t properly trained or prepared, and they end up arguing with the client. And yes, I’ll say it again – “argue with the client”. Unbelievable!
Saying BUT causes the customer to immediately react defensively and things usually go south from there. The same holds true when one says, “We understand but UNFORTUNATELY, we don’t…”. These are the most common triggers in conflict situations that can so easily be avoided.
Try replacing the word but or unfortunately with AND (Yes AND, I understand AND, I agree AND, or I can relate AND…) – you’ll be amazed at the results. It’s a simple approach, yet easy to train. You can find more of these types of strategies in our Ultimate Sales Mastery System. We are offering this system at NO CHARGE for a limited time – so make sure to take advantage.
Trigger #5: NOT MY DEPARTMENT
If you are in charge of answering the phones, you should have a clear workflow protocol and how to answer most questions customers ask. You need to know how to escalate or deescalate with precision. You should be THE EXPERT at moving customers through the organization to get the answers they need quickly and efficiently.
We found in our research that customers associate some of these triggers with the company not valuing them as a client. The other assumption is that the company is managed or run poorly ran. These assumptions immediately create a perception the company is not worthy of their business, so they look for other options to fulfill their needs.
You can start by making a list of common FAQs and train your staff on every possible scenario. We’ve already established that passing a customer around is an immediate trigger of frustration. Likewise, if you cannot handle the client’s questions or problems, then you either a) need more training or b) shouldn’t be in that position. When companies over segment their internal process or departments in an attempt to streamline their business, it can create the unintended consequence that leads to customer attrition.
It’s important to implement cross-functional knowledge to eliminate this risk. When possible, there should be more than one person that retains a vast amount of information department to department so that the customer isn’t passed around to multiple people in the process to get to the final answer.
"Perception, good or bad, is your customers reality"
In conclusion, perception is killing customer retention. At GrowthSmart, we teach that regardless of whether it is true or not to YOU, the business leader, your customers perception is what matters. Hopefully, you are listening to what your customers are saying and looking at these gifts as opportunities to implement real-time strategies that can revolutionize your business.
Perception matters and while there may be a huge disconnect between customers and owners, it’s worth examining as you design your go-forward plan. There are many other triggers that we teach, but these are the most common challenges we see when we analyze organizational performance. Your team is at the mercy of your ability to lead and train. It’s not only good business but profitable business to expertly prepare and train them – year-round – in an efficient, methodical way.
Want to learn how easy it is to create training systems? Contact us at www.MeetWithTrisha.com and we will walk you through simple options to get you started – to more complex solutions – if needed.