When it comes to customer retention and loyalty, few businesses ever enjoyed the reality of “lifelong” customers, although many business owners dream of just that.
And now that competition for consumer spending is tougher than ever, many business owners are finally taking a look at the reasons customers stopped patronizing their businesses with a nod toward identifying and remedying some of the problems within their businesses.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a dental marketing seminar by Fred Joyal, the founder of 1800DENTIST and the author of one of my favorite marketing books, “Everything is Marketing.” In it, he shared the *top reasons customers typically stop frequenting a business (such as a dental practice, salon or spa or another practice or service based business):
1. Three percent (3%) move away
2. Five percent (5%) develop other affiliations
3. Nine percent (9%) leave for competitors
4. Fourteen percent (14%) are dissatisfied
5. Sixty-eight percent (68%) leave because of employee indifference
Do you see the giant turquoise blue piece of the pie — and did you catch why it is that most customers stop coming back to your business?
Not incompetence. Not inconvenience. Not prices. Not even bad customer service – just – indifference. That’s the biggest cause for customer churn.
7 out of 10 of your former customers left because one (or more) of your employees simply didn’t care about the customer experience at the moment they had an opportunity to impact it.
As a consultant, I’ve heard managers throw their employees under the bus over and over again when it comes to the reasons why they can’t attract new customers, why they can’t gain customer loyalty, why they can’t keep customers from leaving. Over and over again, they say that their employees don’t care. And if pressed, my guess is that there are plenty of employees who feel that while they are paid to perform certain tasks, they aren’t paid “to care.”
Technically speaking, that sounds true. But, technically speaking, it isn’t true. Employees are paid to care, albeit not in so many words.
When a business owner or manager extends an offer of employment to an individual, implied is that the individual cares enough about their ability to provide for themselves or their family, if nothing else, to perform the responsibilities listed in the job description and assigned on the job itself. What’s missing, though, often for both employees and managers, is the connection of those responsibilities to the mission of the organization, and this is key.
Employees are paid to care. They are paid to perform tasks not for a paycheck, but for the purpose of fulfilling the mission of the organization.
As the owner of your business, it is therefore imperative that you begin each employment relationship with a mutual understanding of how the role of that employee serves to fulfill the mission of the organization. And that mission must relate to customer service, customer care and customer satisfaction.
If employees, especially employees who are equipped with this type of training, demonstrate through action or inaction that they do not care about the customer, they are telling you that they do not care about the mission of the organization. Indifference is the customer relationship killer, not incompetence. An employee can be competent in the technical fulfillment of their job’s responsibilities and still not fulfill the mission of the organization if the way in which they carry out their duties negatively affects the customer experience.
Build your employee orientation program around the mission of your business and make sure that every employee – whether they are new or have been with your company for a long time – understands how their role impacts the customer experience, and so helps to fulfill the mission and vision of your business. Invest in training and re-training.
Use engagement surveys to measure employee buy-in and attitudes. Use customer satisfaction surveys to identify areas where your connections might be slipping or where you are losing ground as an important resource in the lives of your customers. Live out in your own actions authentic examples of care for both your customers and for your employees.
And hold people accountable. There is no faster road to indifference on the part of your employees than when they see someone damage customer relationships or co-worker relationships without consequence or correction.
It probably won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!
* As also cited in http://www.careercoachondemand.com/uploads/How_to_Win_Customers_for_Life_-_Book_Report.pdf, on the book “How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life” by Michael LeBoeuf, PhD.