No company wants to have unhappy customers, and certainly doesn’t want them to become lost customers. While most companies are now beginning to understand the value of the customer experience and are developing and delivering better services to complement their products, only a few companies – the extraordinary ones – don’t stop there. They go beyond just offering an improved experience and strive to exceed their customers’ expectations during the entire customer lifetime. They are the companies that focus on both existing customers and those they have lost. They understand that to be a customer experience brand leader, it’s imperative to identify and fix the customers’ pain points before they escalate.
It is easy to develop tunnel vision towards existing customers and think exclusively of the actions needed to keep them happy instead of looking at the bigger picture. Focusing on lost customers can be uncomfortable, as identifying and reflecting on your company’s pitfalls isn’t always a motivational endeavor.
Not only that, but some brands also don’t recognize the value in communicating with those who are not paying customers. This leads to missing out on critical details that can teach companies what and where to improve.
Sometimes losing a customer can be a great opportunity to earn new ones. As Bill Gates wrote in his 1999 book Business @ the speed of thought: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Former, or unhappy, customers are an incredible source of valuable information. Not only because companies can try to win them back, but because they provide valuable insights as to why customers are leaving, at which points the customer journey needs more attention, and how to correct issues and innovate for the future.
The following 3 reasons detail why it’s critical to listen to former customers and what you can do to improve:
1. They tell you what you lack
You may think that you have great customer service or offer an experience that will keep customers coming back, however, without having an approachable customer feedback channel – one which also works for those who leave without buying – you cannot be certain. Is it your products, customer service, in-store experience, or online presence that isn’t meeting their expectations? Knowing what you lack is key to improving.
What to do: Have customer feedback integrated as your company KPI and follow it closely. Giving customers a way to express when they feel your service didn’t meet their expectations helps you understand why customers leave you. This should be viewed as a great learning opportunity to look inwards and make improvements.
2. They uncover hidden issues
If there are no customers complaining then your business is doing going great, right? Unfortunately, no. Most unhappy customers don’t take the time to complain. They simply quit doing business with you, becoming lost customers. Then, consider that only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain, and the amount of hidden dissatisfaction and potentially lost customers grows substantially. This is why it is critical to gather feedback from those unhappy or lost customers because hidden issues will, over time, negatively impact your brand reputation, customer retention, and bottom line.
What do to: Look for common trends and patterns and identify when and where your customers are not happy, especially for those who did not make purchases and left your brand. Uncovering the points in your customer journey when customers are ready to leave helps you understand what aspects of your service you could do better to avoid losing additional customers for the same issues.
3. They can become your biggest promoters
It’s inevitable that a business will at some point have unhappy customers, and the reasons will vary depending on the individual situation. But once you’ve identified the reasons, you can remedy the problems. Remember: when you resolve a negative experience for your customer in a satisfactory way, you can not only win them back, but you increase their loyalty and can generate positive word-of-mouth.
What to do: Treat your unhappy or lost customers with respect. They were once your loyal customer, and there is always the opportunity to correct the issue and win them back. Reach out to them with a personalized, strategic approach to learn how you can correct the problem. Being transparent and sharing improvements your company has made in response to customer dissatisfactions wins the trust of existing, lost, and future customers.
Reducing customer churn by even a small amount can add up to a lot. So, have you considered the value of your own former customers, or have you just abandoned them? The honest feedback of unhappy or lost customers will be a true reflection of your businesses pain points, and when you learn how to turn them into loyal or returning customers, you secure better business success not only for your existing customers, but for future customers, too.