When’s the last time a customer fired you? Have you ever been surprised by a customer leaving you? It’s never a good situation, but it’s worse when you realize there was something you could have done. And if a customer left you for a competitor there was something you could’ve and should’ve done. If the relationship with the lost client cannot be salvaged at least you can take a hard look at why you lost your customer and work towards avoiding the same with other customers.

What Makes Customers Happy

Communicate – Customers want updates, and they don’t want to have to initiate the contact. Customers have communication preferences, and it’s up to you, the provider, to find out if they prefer an email, call, or visit. They don’t want to be put off or ignored; when a client asks for information—they wanted it an hour ago.

Tell the Truth – The surest way to begin down the path to losing a customer is to over-promise; when a company under-delivers, the customer begins to doubt and suspect every action and correspondence. It’s not a fun path to be on. Don’t surprise customers with invoice add-ons or undisclosed exceptions. Be upfront.

Make it personal – If you treat your customer like a friend it’s difficult for them to leave you. Of course, you have to deliver a good product at a fair price but knowing your customer, his or her business preferences, hobbies, and family goes a long way.

Be on time – No…be early—early to the meeting, for a conference call, and delivering product. None of us have enough hours in the day in this hustle-bustle world we live in and if you make your customers wait—you may be waiting a long time.

Show your professionalism – In appearance, demeanor, and presentation. Don’t present an idea to a customer on a napkin. Create outstanding collateral material; use PowerPoint presentations, and product mock-ups. If not, someone more professional will steal your customer away. Take the time to research their industry and know your customer’s niche. Send a thank you card; yes through the mail, and occasionally send a promotional gift.

Solve problems – Listen to your customer. Ask questions. Learn what their needs are and find solutions.

Follow up – Send a customer satisfaction survey, call or visit, and ask for criticism. Learn what you and your company could do better, what else you should offer, and where you fail to meet your client’s expectations.

What Makes Customers Unhappy

Over-promising and under-delivering – Overselling delivery time, quality, or function is the fastest way to lose a customer.

Lack of timely information and follow up – When a customer calls—answer your phone. When they email, respond when you open the email; if you have time to open it you have time to answer.

Not listening – If you spend your client time pitching your customer rather than determining and fulfilling their needs—they’ll pitch you—out the door.

Forgetting their name – People don’t want to be a number. They want to matter. They want you to make them feel important, and aren’t they?

Lying – Not only out-and-out lies, but lies by omission. Is it a lie to omit important product information because it may not be favorable to your customer’s needs? Is it a lie to not completely explain pricing, invoicing, and payment? Is it a lie to sell an inferior product to hold the price down when a superior product was better suited to the customer’s needs? Would your customer consider these lies? Would you in their shoes?

Unprofessional behavior – If you’re unorganized, and unprepared, you’ll be un-customer-erd

If You Don’t Make Them Happy…Someone Will. 

It’s takes a commitment to professionalism, your customer, and to your organization to do what is needed to retain customers. Committing the time and energy needed to keep your customers happy is still less expensive and less time consuming to replace them. How do you keep your customers happy?