I read a statistic the other day that made me pause and shake my head in disbelief. According to ASQ (American Society for Quality), 68% of the time a customer takes their business elsewhere they state neglect to be the number one reason they left. Only 14% said it was dissatisfaction with a product or service. You read that right – neglect. That’s a pretty harsh word. Here are some synonyms for neglect; abandon, ignore, shun, forget, overlook, and disregard. Those are harsher words yet.
I was wondering to myself if I’ve ever felt neglected and it hit me like a brick. I used to be a ‘road warrior’, some months I was on the road three out of four weeks. I was in the top tier of my airline, hotel and rental car loyalty programs. I had special lines I could stand in, free upgrades and concierge services. Now that I’ve (thankfully) gotten off that hamster wheel I stand in the back or wait in line with the rest of the ordinary folks. I certainly understand in my brain that this is based on economics but my heart thinks “What? Am I no longer good enough to be treated special?”
What about me?
This is such an easy trap to fall into. It’s natural to want to pay special attention to your best customers. But how did they get there? They were ‘ordinary folks’ at one time. Did you nurture them until they grew or did it happen by chance? The first thing you need to do is to honestly check yourself. Are you guilty of neglecting your customers? If the answer is “maybe” or “probably” here are some tips:
- Reach out – make an effort to connect or reconnect with those customers you don’t spend a lot of time with. You might be surprised by the potential that exists there.
- Don’t alienate one group while trying to satisfy another (deals for new customers, those with your charge card, etc.). One of my personal hot buttons is the need to have the store’s loyalty card to get the special price. If it’s on sale for him it better be on sale for me!
- Let’s get social – don’t ignore customers on social media. You have a wide variety of customers who have varied media preferences. At a minimum have a Facebook and Twitter site. Encourage and respond to all comments.
- Refocus the rest of your communication efforts. I’m betting you’re in constant contact with your best customers. What about the rest? Reach out via mail, email or phone at least twice a year (quarterly would be better) to let them know you appreciate their business. If anything is new with you (price, product, location, etc.) use that communication to update them.
- Thank them. This is the easiest thing to do that’s also high impact. I have a restaurant that I frequent where the hosts at the door are instructed to not only greet customers but to thank them when they leave as well. I never leave there without hearing “Thanks – have a great day!”
I’m not suggesting that your best customers don’t receive more perks. That’s the reward for loyalty. I am, however, cautioning you to be careful making it glaringly obvious. You might as well be on the playground shouting “I like her more than you!” What should be obvious is your gratitude for all of your customers, no matter the size of their wallet. Some antonyms for neglect are: care, regard, respect and cherish. Those sound a lot better don’t you think?