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10 Easy Ways to Lose a Customer

April 2005 Marketing

While businesses will willingly invest large sums of money to try to attract new clients or customers, they often let valuable relationships slip away through simple acts of carelessness and failure to identify with the needs of the customer/client.

Today’s business environment is brutal. Not only is it difficult to attract new business, competitors seem to be working overtime to try to steal key accounts.

Here are 10 “easy ways” to lose a customer:

  1. Poor Pricing. Are your fees in line with your services? Are you charging too much or too little? “If you are charging too much the client/customer will eventually realize they are not getting value. If you charge too little, the agency might give up the relationship.
  2. Poor Perceived Value. Do you know what your client/customer seeks from the relationship? How do you communicate value? Do you sense frustration from your client? Does your client recommend you to others?
  3. Losing Out to a Competitor. Do you know who your competitors are? What are their distinctive competencies? Are there major pricing differences between you and your competitors? Are your competitors getting more exposure and generating more awareness than you?
  4. Poor Service. Are you empathetic to the needs of your client/customer? How good is your follow-up? How often do you visit with clients/customers face-to-face. Are you relying too much on voice mail, FAX and e-mail? A real danger signal can surface from monthly retainer relationships. Firms on retainers often feel secure just cashing checks and not being sensitive enough to the needs of the client.
  5. Poor Quality Work. Do you have a quality control system in place? Are the same mistakes being made over and over? How are complaints handled?
  6. Personality Conflicts. Do you closely monitor the relationship between your account people and the client/customer? Are you aware of personality conflicts or other incompatibilities? The manager or business owner should periodically meet with the client or customer to make sure the interpersonal relationships are working well. If need be account people should be transferred from one account to the next. Such personnel moves often provisions the client/customer with an infusion of new ideas.
  7. Failure to Adjust to a Client’s Changing Needs. Do you continually monitor and track the directions the account is taking? Are you willing to grow with your client or scale down your services when the client is having problems.
  8. Poor billing. Who develops bills? Who approves them? Who monitors payment? Do bill include enough detail or too much detail? How much back-up information does the client/customer need?
  9. Poor Records-Keeping and Reporting. Do you routinely issue call or conference reports? Are telephone calls returned immediately? Are these reports being distributed internally as well as to the client?
  10. A failure to communicate. This is the ‘mother’ of all possible ways to lose a relationship. As long as the lines of communications stay open, you will be able to keep the account. As long as the customer/client feels comfortable complaining, you will never lose a relationship. Your problems start when the client stops complaining. Only when the customer throws up his hands and feels you’re not listening is the relationship is doomed.”


About the author

James T. Berger, Managing Editor of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit www.jamesberger.net or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.

James T. Berger
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