But in the end, do you really know why they left?
You can have them fill out a survey, ask them via a follow up phone call or just ask them face to face, but are you getting the real reason from them?
I think some will be able to clearly tell you why they left. It may be because of your prices, the quality of your product or a lack of support. It's great to be able to get concrete reasons like this, reasons you can sink your teeth into it and make changes based on them. But the many of your customers may not even know why they left you.
People fall in and out of love everyday. For years you may have been deeply in love with someone, but over time, those feeling start to slowly fade. Like the Righteous Brothers swooned, “You've lost that lovin' feeling”. In these instances, there isn't a single event that all of a sudden turned the relationship south, but a slow build up of little things, added up over time, that led to this change. The reason most customers leave, isn't because they dislike you, it's because they have grown apathetic towards you. Apathy is your real enemy.
Customers don't usually go from happy customer to unhappy customer, it's usually happy customer to indifferent customer.
Those changes in sentiment are hard to track with surveys and expensive software programs, where every customer is placed into a neat little column, depending if they like you or not. That's not the way the world works and how people behave. Your customers may still like you, but maybe not as much as they used to. And they may not be able to explain why. “It's not you, it's me” the girl told the heartbroken boy.
Now I'm all for follow ups, surveys and other customer communications where you can get valuable insights on how your customers think about you. You can gain some valuable information this way. But there is also a large gray area where many customers won't be able to accurately describe why they stopped doing business with you. And if pressed, they may give you a reason but it may not be the real reason.
It's often little things, added up over time, that change the way your customer feels about you. Maybe you're still attentive to their needs, but not as attentive as you were a year ago when they first became a customer. Maybe they still like your food, but noticed the quality is just a tad bit lower than they remembered. Maybe you used to call them by name when they came into your store, now you just give a brief smile and polite hello.
Take a look at some of the little things that you used to do to make your customers feel special. Maybe you'll find some simple ways to bring back that lovin' feeling.
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