Is one bad experience really all it takes to lose a customer?

Ever have a really bad experience with a business you liked? If so, did you keep doing business with them…or decide to check out someplace else?

Customer experiences can easily make or break a business, no matter what industry it’s in. As they say, it takes years to build trust—but only seconds to break it! And once a customer has lost faith, they may jump ship ASAP or harbor a grudge that compels them to leave at a later date.

When customers decide to bail out

It’s not unusual for customers to end long-standing relationships with businesses and brands they’ve stuck with for years. But every case is different and bears its own unique variables, such as:

  • The product or service that caused the negative experience
  • The customer’s temperament
  • Whether anyone else was affected
  • Any supplementary negative encounters (such as an uncaring customer service representative)
  • Any long-term consequences

Depending on the variables, not every bad experience results in the loss of a valued customer. But about 25% of the time, that’s exactly what happens. Studies show that “one in four people will switch to a competitor after a single bad experience with a business.”

If that’s not enough to make you spruce up your business’s customer service, we don’t know what will!

Meanwhile, sure, at least 75% of the time, customers will give a business a second chance (and maybe even a third). But rack up three negative engagements and it’s pretty much game over.

For example: Say a customer enters a store and feels like the cashier has a poor attitude. That’s one bad encounter.

The customer gets home and discovers the product they bought doesn’t meet their expectations for some reason. That’s two!!

They go back a couple of weeks later to return the item, but they lost their receipt. The store refuses to issue a refund or a credit. Strike three!

Now, in many cases, things get subjective quickly. Was the customer right or wrong to be upset or to blame the business? To some extent, it doesn’t matter. If their perception of the experiences was negative, that’s what they’ll base their decisions on. And 92% of the time, after three bad experiences, folks walk away for good and don’t look back!

And why should they? Would you keep shelling out money to a business that you felt treated you poorly on a regular basis? Most people won’t tolerate it. In fact, 82% of consumers say they’ve stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service.

In today’s hectic marketplace, there are too many alternatives for customers to choose from. The scales of supply and demand are tilted in favor of the buyers, leaving companies to fight over the same consumers.

Customers are demanding more and know they’ll get it. The only question is from whom?

That’s why your business must ramp up its game to stay competitive—and why you need to do these two things really well…

Thing #1: Understand what your customers or clients expect!

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, because all your customers and clients want the same thing: to be treated like human beings.

They expect—nay, demand!—professional, friendly, empathetic service. They want it every time and, by the way, they want it immediately, too.

If that sounds like too much to handle, your business might be on the fast track to joining the “Failed Business Club.” 65.1% of businesses join that ill-fated club within ten years. Unfortunately, no matter how full it gets, it’s always taking new members.

One of the most obvious signs of a failing business is “loss of clientele,” per Investopedia. If you’re experiencing such losses, you can mitigate and reverse the trend by getting to know your customers better and giving them what they want.

Thing #2: Pay attention to their feedback!

Perhaps the best way to understand what consumers want is to listen to them. Read their feedbacks and online reviews. Hop on social media and see what they’re saying about you. Send out surveys and ask direct questions about their experiences with your business.

You may not (and most likely won’t) agree with every comment they make. But good or bad, all feedback carries a certain amount of value.

Feedback offers incredible insights into the minds of your customers, providing you with unfiltered data you can use to improve in certain areas, as needed. So put on your objectivity cap and try to understand their points of view. Take notes and identify actionable takeaways.

Also important—make a sincere effort to respond to both positive and negative reviews, whenever possible. In fact, give extra attention to the negative reviews because those are opportunities to potentially turn things around. Offer to speak with disgruntled customers directly. See if you can’t reach a resolution that satisfies them and wins them back. Because every customer counts, and it’s five to seven times cheaper to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one.

Ready to win over (or win back) customers?

Want more research-backed strategic tips on meeting and exceeding customer expectations? Then download our free ebook, X-pectation files: The truth about small business customers, to learn more!

Inside, we explore the topics that matter most in today’s hectic world of customer service. Find the answers to burning business questions such as:

  • Will customers pay more for better service?
  • Do customers expect immediate responses?
  • Is the phone call dead? (Hint: It’s not!)
  • Is customer service letting people down?
  • Is customer service technology replacing humans?
  • …and much more!

Customer expectations are sky-high…and their patience levels seem to be at an all-time low. Luckily, Ruby’s here to help your business walk the tightrope and respond in ways that delight your customers and leave them hungry for more!

For over 20 years, we’ve made it a breeze for business callers and website visitors to reach real, friendly, knowledgeable customer service representatives in seconds—24/7, 365 days a year. Get your free copy of The X-pectation files now and discover how Ruby has helped over 14,000 small businesses just like yours!