Losing a customer is inevitable in business and if you haven’t lost one yet, you certainly will. Sometimes it’s about the quality of the job and sometimes it is not. You can be the most professional service with the best equipment and best crews and still you WILL lose customers. This is about what we can all do to keep customers around as long as we can and what to do once we do lose a customer. At the end of the day a customer firing you can turn into a learning experience.
One of the most common things I hear in this industry when a company loses a customer is that another company stole their account. They blame the other company for stealing the customer, but refuse to look in the mirror at what they could have done better. When a customer fires you you can either blame your competitor and continue making the same mistakes that caused you to lose that customer, or you can figure out what you did and fix it. How was your customer service? You may have completed the job perfectly, but did you respond in a timely fashion when the client had a question or comment? There are a million small things that you can do or not do that causes the client to feel like a VIP or like just another customer. Like my dad used to say, it is the service after the job is sold that consummates the relationship.
If you do lose a customer for whatever reason, don’t just let that opportunity for learning what you could have done better slip away. If the relationship ends in a cordial way, you can send them a questionnaire that they fill out that gives you feedback on what you can improve on. In fact, you don’t have to wait to send out these questionnaires, you can send them out at the end/beginning of each season and ask your current customers what they liked and didn’t like about your service. Implementing this kind of questionnaire allows you to fix something with your existing customers and keep them around for years to come. Sometimes customers will feel uncomfortable giving you negative feedback in person so doing a mailing or electronic survey will give them the freedom to be honest about what they want from you. Utilizing a questionnaire or survey is a simple and cost-effective way to make sure you’re fixing what you can and capitalize on what you’re already doing well.
Losing a customer doesn’t have to be the end of the world and it doesn’t have to become a blame game either. Don’t sit around pointing fingers at the competition for “stealing” your customer because at the end of the day a customer is just a short-term stop for your business and there are plenty more out there. The important thing is to figure out why you lost them and fix it if it is something fixable and move on to the next one. When we do this we become a more professional business and more professional industry that isn’t petty and filled with ill-will towards one another. For more information on this subject check out our video on YouTube on Customer Retention.