The top 10 ways to destroy customer retention.

Reading time:
Improve your customer retention

Customer retention is the fine art of keeping your customer base delighted by your service and loyal to your product. While customer retention is on the radar for most business owners, it may get lost amidst the day-to-day tasks that keep a business moving. Taking existing customer relationships for granted is rarely intentional, but it can feel surprisingly natural to ease off courting your customers once you get them through the door.

Continuing to charm buyers long after that first sale does require a plan and commitment, but the benefits of keeping them around are well worth the effort.

We’ve put together a list of 10 common mistakes businesses make that wind up losing them their most valuable asset: their customers. 

10. Under-Educating Your Base

Many companies overlook one of the best possible outcomes of doing business: the empowerment and gratitude people feel when you open their eyes to all the ways you can make their lives easier.

When it comes to your product or service, don’t be tempted to leave education up to “the Internet.” Take time to help them understand your product benefits; make sure they understand the latest features and updates. Highlight the differences among various product options, so they can easily and confidently make the best choice. They’ll appreciate the saved time, frustration, confusion, and the valuable decision-making power you’re providing them.

As you educate the customer about your products, take time to educate them about your company and your brand, as well. What’s your company’s story? Your values? Specialities or expertise that lend credibility to both you and your products? Make sure your customers know.

Establish yourself as the trusted go-to expert in your field, with just the tools they need, and customers will keep coming back for more.

9. Breaking Promises

The crutch of exceptional customer service is doing what you say you’ll do.  Failure to deliver on the promise of your good is a recipe for dissatisfaction, prompting your customers to walk away with the impression that you cannot meet their needs.

Yikes.

Take time to review the performance or quality claims touted in your marketing materials.  Are they accurate? Do you deliver? Think also about the kind of expectations your customers have about the experience they want when they buy from you.

Here’s your opportunity to take the lead: Set expectations from your side–then meet or exceed them. Be crystal clear about deadlines, the time required to rectify issues, the potential add-on-costs, and similar factors. Being up-front can help you better understand the needs of your customer and reduce the risk of mutual frustration.

8. Failing to Follow Up

One common misstep is not following up with your customers. Is your product hitting the mark for them? Did your project perform as expected?  Even if the answer is no, you’ve opened the door for a new conversation and an opportunity to learn how to improve your offering.

Following up can be as simple as an automated email or as personal as a call from the business owner. Find the practice that works best for you and your customers, and you may be surprised to see a spike in retention and active brand evangelists alike!

7. Forgetting to Ask for Repeat Business

A slight variation on the follow-up is the direct ask. Chances are, if your customers have a good experience, they’ll purchase from you again.

Or perhaps they’ll point you in the direction of another prospective customer.

Consider offering your first-time clients a next-purchase or next-project discount. If you’re completing a big project, be proactive about a follow-up proposal that showcases your abilities as an ongoing strategic partner.

Answer the question, “what is a virtual receptionist?”

Discover how you can earn referrals one happy customer at a time!

GET THE GUIDE

6. Failing to Reward Loyalty

Customer loyalty can be recognized financially, such as offering “frequent-flier”-type rewards. Or, you can opt for something a little more thoughtful, like sending a unique gift or hand-written notecard for an added personal touch.

Loyalty can be built or broken at every touchpoint in the customer lifecycle. Does your customer-facing staff greet repeat customers in a warm, professional way? Does your team retain knowledge about your client over time so that working with you never feels like a “do over”?

Customers like doing business with companies that make them feel like they’re more than just a number. Explore new ways of thanking customers for their business and acknowledging where you’ve been together and where you’re going.

5. Being (Only) a Commodity

If you don’t add value to your customers—or fail to create a personal rapport for that matter, you risk being seen as a commodity. Your offering becomes a service chosen based on price and features, making you an easily-replaceable part of the pack.

So how do you avoid being seen as a commodity? Demonstrate your value by creating meaningful connections.

Get to know your client’s favorite sports team or reach out when you hear about a big accomplishment in their professional or personal life. Connecting with your customer base humanizes your company, making customers more “sticky” and can validate their decision to buy from you – even at a premium price point.

4. Ignoring the Chatter 

There are many platforms today where customers can tell others about their good and bad experiences. It pays to monitor review sites on an ongoing basis and really listen to what people say, the bad and the good.

Negative reviews pose an opportunity for you to make things right with disgruntled customers in a public forum—flex your customer service muscles here and let people see you for the customer-centric business that you are.

3. Being Non-Analytical

It can be tempting to rely on anecdotes or “gut sense” when evaluating your product and customer service experience. But doing so opens you up to missing some truly valuable information and insight. Back up that intuition with a little hard data and you’re off to the races.

Make sure your data analysis extends beyond measuring operational expenses and ROI. Ask questions to gain insights, such as:

What percentage of your current customers are first-timers? How many have been with you for a year or more? Is there something bringing your customers back? And how can you create an even more effective strategy based on the customer lifecycle?

Evaluate the data and share the insights with your customer service reps, sales, and marketing teams to create content, experiences, and product enhancements that will further benefit your current customers.

2. Missing the Heart Connection

It’s easy to assume that people make business decisions based on rational criteria, yet studies show quite the opposite. Some 90% of customer decision-making is emotional, regardless of your industry. That’s why world-leading brands like Coca Cola, Apple, Nike and others spend millions of marketing and advertising dollars annually. They’re investing in emotional connections to draw like-minded (or like-hearted) people to their brands.

You have an opportunity to stand for something that your customers care about. Whether that’s a social cause, a set of beliefs or even a shared sense of humor—take the time to understand the connection between you, your product or service, and your ideal customers.

1. Not Having a Plan

The absolute fastest way to destroy customer retention is to leave it to chance. If you want to keep your customers coming back time and again, you need a plan. Make it simple. Include some measurable data-points, so you know what success looks like. Put it in action, then watch your sales and customer retention metrics blossom.

Looking for ways to satisfy your customers? We’ve got an ebook for that.

Additional reads you may find interesting...

View All
Virtual receptionist sitting at desk

Virtual receptionist pricing 101

Professional sitting at desk on computer, working on a law firm's website
Legal Practice Tips

What Google’s Core Web Vitals mean for your law firm’s website

A group of Ruby customers stand together, smiling and talking

Does your business need an answering service?

Screenshot of a YouTube channel's live videos

How to use YouTube Live to engage your clients & audience

Smiling woman standing in a bicycle workshop with a mobile device in her hands
Small Business Tips

3 ways virtual receptionists elevate customer experience (while making your life easier)

Circular cutout of Rebecca Grimes, Ruby's Chief Revenue Officer

A conversation with Ruby’s Chief Revenue Officer, Rebecca Grimes

Woman in yellow sweater working in front of open laptop, sitting in home office interior, drinking coffee
Small Business Tips

Happy customers, efficient businesses: How to supercharge growth with virtual receptionists 

Help wanted sign hung in reflective window
Small Business Tips

Using online presence platforms for recruitment

A man in silhouette looks out over a foggy mountain range
Small Business Tips

How to communicate with employees during times of tension

Close-up: professional with blonde pompadour has a conversation over the phone in a co-working space with red walls
Receptionist Tips

How to keep a conversation going

Title card: Leveraging Customer Service as a Value Proposition, with Melinda Emerson, Kate Winkler, and Sharie Hendricks
Small Business Tips

Customer service tips and more from Ruby + SmallBizLady

A white-bearded man looks beyond the frame with a happily surprised expression on his face
Small Business Tips

This is what wow-worthy customer service looks like.

A woman in yellow overalls sits on a hardwood floor among houseplants with a closed laptop, her hands behind her head
Small Business Tips

Achieve remote work bliss with Ruby.

Title card with Sam's headshot: Ruby customer feature series, Sam Hainey, Hilltop Law Firm
Customer Feature

Ruby customer feature: Sam Hainey, Hilltop Law Firm

A man in a blue and white-striped shirt looks through binoculars at the open sea
Small Business Tips

Sick of losing sales? How to find the perfect leads for your business

Try Ruby Risk Free

Call to talk to a live virtual receptionist and hear why 10,000+ companies Ruby.

Call Ruby Sign Up
Sales Support

Already a Ruby customer?

Let’s get started.

Ready to turn more callers into customers?

Missed connections translate to lost revenue. With Ruby, you have a partner in gaining and retaining customers. Plus, we’re so confident you’ll love our service, we offer a 21 day money-back guarantee*.

*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the canceled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner. Some restrictions may apply.

Legal_Final

The Secret to Successful Law Firms

The inside scoop on Clio’s latest legal trends report.

Phone Thumbnail 2

10 Questions to Ask a Virtual Reception Provider

Ask the right questions and rate virtual reception services with our handy guide and scorecard!