How to Lose Customers

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In business, you have two major goals: 1) Keep your current customers, 2) Gain new customers. It’s all about the customers. Without them, your business will die. So, why is it that so many businesses seem hell bent on losing their customers? Here are several deadly mistakes I regularly see businesses make that cause them to lose customers.

• Overpromise and under-deliver: As a freelance copywriter, I always have clients asking me when I can deliver their copy by. Early on, I realized that it’s much better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to do the opposite. If you promise your customers you’re going to do something, come hell or high water, you’d better do it. Once that trust is broken, it’s nearly impossible to earn it back.

• Not truly knowing your customers: How well do you really know your customers? Do you know what their true needs are? Do you know how they talk and what their likes and dislikes are? If you don’t truly know your customers, you’ll lose them. Read these tips for defining your target audience.

• Ignoring their loyalty: If you want to improve your client retention rate, you can start by rewarding your loyal customers. Give something back to them that demonstrates how appreciative you are of their business. This can be something as simple as offering them an exclusive discount, or you can give them a free product for every X number of purchases they make (like the punch cards they give out at ice cream shops).

• Offer poor customer service: Almost every company claims to offer exceptional customer service, but few back it up. Here’s a tip: It’s not enough for your customer service representatives to be friendly; they need to be knowledgeable too. Possessing just one of those two skills won’t get the job done. Hire excellent customer service representatives, and find new ways to improve your customer service (e.g. offering customer service through Twitter).

• Be inconsistent in your products and services: Imagine going to a restaurant and getting a steak. It tastes great, so you have no problem spending $50 on your meal. A few weeks later, you go back and try the steak again. This time, it’s awful. The meat is low quality, and it’s not cooked the way you asked. You begrudgingly pay your $50 and walk out the door. Question: would you go back? Personally, I probably wouldn’t. Inconsistency kills businesses. You have to provide the same level of quality every time, so that customers know exactly what they’re going to get when they give you their money.

• Constantly try to sell them: There’s nothing wrong with marketing to your existing customers, but you have to be careful not to do so to the point of annoyance. If you’re emailing them every single day about a new sale, chances are, they’ll get ticked off and stop doing business with you.

What other mistakes cost businesses customers? Share your tips in the comments.

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