Losing your customers

Quick! Which is better? Keeping your customers or losing your customers?

They say that it's ten times cheaper to keep a customer than to get a customer. (At least, that's what Ryan said on The Office.) Why do we lose customers? It's not price; it's not features; it's not any of the reasons we hear from sales people.

In The reason customers leave, Kristin Zhivago explains,

It's hard enough to get customers. In tight times, the last thing you want to do, after you've gotten a customer, is to lose them. Not a good idea. But, it happens all the time to lots of companies. Why?

One reason. Yes, that's what I said: ONE reason. In every situation, for every type of product or service, in all the thousands of customer interviews I've conducted, it's obvious that there is really only one reason why customers leave. The reason:

"You stopped caring about me."

(It's true for employees too.)

In our frenzy, particularly in economic downturns or company mergers, there's so much to do and so little time to do it. So we focus on the urgent instead of the important. Isn't it odd that the same clients seem to have emergencies time after time. Maybe they've learned that the best way to get attention is to cry "Wolf!" and your company responds.

(It's true for employees too. I knew a guy who quit with great fanfare every year. And every year, the VP of International Sales would woo him back with more money and more perks. What lesson did he learn?)

Have you contacted 100% of your customers this year... without asking them for money? Maybe you need to spend some time maintaining customer relationships.

What are you doing this year (and next) to keep your customers?

PS. Another incredible comment in the article. Kristin wrote: "...in all the thousands of customer interviews I've conducted..." Talk about being able to speak with authority. This lady has some serious NIHITO.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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