Why Customers Stop Buying

A few years back, the U.S. government conducted a study on "Why Customers Stop Buying." We’ve all had that experience. Customers, who have been with us for either a short or long period of time, all of a sudden stop buying. The survey asked "Why?" and here are the results:

  • 1% of the customers who stop buying die. It happens; it’s not pleasant when it does, but it’s only 1%.
  • 3% move away. Again, we’ve all experienced this, especially in the U.S., which is a very mobile society. Businesses relocate; people and families relocate.
  • 5% form other business relationships. For example, a client could come to you and say, "I’ve enjoyed doing business with you, but my son/daughter/wife/husband (pick one) just went to work for your competition and I’ll be throwing my business their way. Or, it could be that the contact person you deal with just left the company, a new person, with a whole set of different relationships and contacts, took his/her place and you’re on the outside looking in.

    While this only represents 5% of the customers you lose, it points up the necessity of making sure your client relationships are with executives who are as close to the top as possible. The reason being: these people change jobs far less often than middle managers or other lower level decision makers.

  • 9% leave for competitive reasons. This usually means price. For all of you who think that hordes of customers abandon you because of price issues, notice that it’s only 9%! Better yet, are those the kind of customers you really want? If someone is going to stop buying from you because they can get it cheaper somewhere else, what do you think happens when a third company comes along with a better price?
  • 14% stop buying because of product dissatisfaction. More often than not, this usually means the customer bought something that didn’t fill their needs; and whose fault do you think that is? If you said the salesperson, you’re right.

    You’re better off turning a customer away, than selling them something that’s not right for them. This way you build trust and leave the door open to come back when you feel you have something that fills their needs. Selling something that’s totally wrong for the customer can close the door on you forever.

  • 68% of the customers you lose, you lose because of poor or indifferent ATTITUDE, on the part of you or someone else in your company. Amazing! 68% of the customers you lose leave for reasons well within your control to prevent. You never had to lose them. It was probably because someone was nasty; or didn’t return a phone call; didn’t follow up; or, better yet, took a customers complaint and either ignored it or refused to fix it. By the way, resolving a customer complaint quickly and efficiently will save 95% of the customers who complain. Heck, just listening to a customer’s complaint will salvage more than 50% of them.

Career Happiness

Ask most people how they got into what they are doing and they’ll tell you – "I either fell into it, or my father or mother works in the industry." It’s this reason alone why so many people dislike their jobs. The job chose them, they didn’t choose it. But this is what happens when you’re not quite sure what kind of career or job you’re looking for.

How do you decide what job or career best suits you?

  • At a young age, don’t be afraid to try different things. When you first get out of school, it’s hard to know what you like, because you have so little experience.
  • If you’re already established in the work place, but working at a job that you hate, you might need to make a career change even though it’s scary.
    • You’ll never be as successful as you’re capable of being if you don’t like the job, because you won’t put in the time energy and effort to be successful.
    • Figure out what it is that you like to do. Don’t be afraid to invest in professional help, like a career counselor. It’s worth it and so are you.
  • Formulate a criteria of your perfect job. List everything you want in a job or career.

What should you be looking for in a career?

  • A future
  • Training, knowledge, experience. This is crucial, whether you’re a recent grad just starting out in the workplace, or a career changer looking to start anew.
  • Think Long Term. Remember, money is the last thing to come. If you’re changing careers, you know you’ll have to take a salary hit in the short term. However, you can’t possibly believe that if you find a career you love, you won’t be motivated to work harder and, eventually, you’ll earn more than you ever would have in your old career.
  • If you’re going to make a career change, plan for it financially. This is one of the biggest reasons people stay in careers they hate. Start your career change plan a year in advance. This gives you time to lower your overhead and sock away some extra money in preparation for the upcoming income hit. Don’t worry about staying an extra year at a job you dislike. Besides, you don’t want to go from one thing you fell into to another. The mere action of planning this big change will energize you. Successful people love new challenges.
  • Your 1st and most important sale is at home. When starting out on any new venture or career, there will be an adjustment period. Things could be rough at the beginning. You’ll probably be working longer hours than you used to. If it’s a new sales job, you’ll get your brains beat in with rejection at the beginning. The last thing you need is to get your brains beat in when you get home. You need a place where there will always be positive feedback, no matter what. Unless you have total support from your spouse, I would recommend not making the change.

Customers Want to Deal With a Person

Back in 1999 I was the keynote speaker at a meeting in Monte Carlo for a large Life Insurance Company. They had invited only their top 50 producers.

The day before I was to speak, my client told me that their business analysts were predicting there would be no need for face-to-face salespeople in the 21st century. I agreed, but only half way. I believe there is no need for poor to mediocre salespeople in the 21st century.

However, there is now and will always be a desperate need for outstanding salespeople. These are people who serve as experts, advisors and resources for their clients. The ones who sell: quality, service, convenience and value; "time" and "make my life easier;" knowledge, expertise, information and education. The salespeople who give so much extra value their price is irrelevant.

Surveys show that most buyers would prefer the personal touch. They want to deal face to face and work with the same person all time. They like to know if they have a problem, they only have to call one person who can take care of everything for them.

The reason many people have stopped buying face to face is they can’t find enough outstanding salespeople to deal with.

With demand for the personal touch as high as or higher than ever and the supply of quality professional salespeople low, this creates an exciting opportunity for those people who are willing to "do the hard," and do what it takes to be an outstanding sales professional.


Money is Not a Motivator

Nowadays, there are far too many people who believe that motivation can be increased by money. Bosses believe if they give a person a raise they will be a better worker. Other people believe that if they made more money their troubles would be over. Definitely, not the case.

Think about this: did you ever work at a job you really hated? I’m sure every person reading this would say "yes" to that question. Now, even though you hated the job, did you ever receive a raise on that job? I know I did, and I’m sure many of you did to. However, when you came to work the next day (the day after receiving the raise), did you now love the job or did you still hate it? I’m betting you still hated the job.

You see, money is not something that makes us love our jobs; it’s just something that might stop us, temporarily, from hating our jobs. Nobody ever wakes up in the morning and says, "I can’t wait to get to work today, because they pay me well." But, you might hear people say this, "I hate this job! I’d love to get out of here, but, they pay me well so I might as well stay." Wouldn’t you love to have someone like that working for you? They’re acting as if they’re doing you a favor by taking your money.

The problem is: money is not a motivator. Money is a vehicle. It is a vehicle that allows us to live the type of lifestyle we choose to live. So what do we really need to know? Of course, what type of lifestyle we want to live. In fact, if you can answer this question; how do I want my life to look? That will tell you how much money you need to make. Once you know that amount, you can formulate a plan to get it. Only if we know what we’re going to do with the money is there any motivation to get it.

When you have a clear idea of how your job and the money you earn can be a vehicle towards helping you acquire what you want, your attitude and performance on the job will improve because now you’re working for yourself and your ultimate goal.


Customer Service; The Ritz-Carlton Way

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, I don’t have to tell you it is one of the all-time best customer service experiences you can ever have.

Ritz-Carlton is the only service company to have won the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award twice-in 1992 and again in 1999 (one year after being acquired by Marriott). The chain placed first in guest satisfaction among luxury hotels in the most recent J.D. Power & Associates hotel survey.

The great thing about the kind of extraordinary customer service that Ritz-Carlton delivers is that their "secrets" can be easily duplicated by any company in any industry. However, implementation of these "secrets" requires undying commitment to the following six steps throughout your entire organization:

1. Make Customer Service an Elite Club. Ritz-Carlton has devised a rigorous interview process to identify the emphatic, positive team players who become top performers. Executives say the interview is effective not only in picking great talent but also in conveying the message that working at Ritz-Carlton is a privilege.

2. Once You Have the Right People, Indoctrinate Them. Ritz-Carlton spends about $5,000 to train each new hire. First is a two-day introduction to company values, including the "credo" and the 20 Ritz-Carlton "basics" (Basic 13 is "Never lose a guest"). Next, a 21 day course focused on job responsibilities, such as a bellman’s 28 steps to greeting a guest. Each employee carries a plastic card imprinted with the credo and the basics, as well as the "employee promise" and the three steps of service. Step 1: "A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest’s name, if and when possible."

3. Treat Staffers the Way They Should Treat Customers. The company celebrates not just employee birthdays but also employment anniversaries. They allow their staff to make decisions. Regardless of position, every staff member can spend as much as $2,000 without management approval to resolve a guest’s problem. Employees say the exemption lets them make a personal impact on a guest’s experience, resulting in higher job satisfaction. Naturally turnover at Ritz-Carlton is almost half of what their competition’s is.

4. Offer "Memorable Service. What others call complaints, Ritz-Carlton calls opportunities. Lip service at most companies, this is truly embraced at Ritz-Carlton. Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center and information and learning liaison Linda Conway says a stay during which a problem is resolved quickly and satisfactorily remains in a guest’s mind longer than one in which there is no problem at all.

5. Talk About Values and Stoke Enthusiasm. Every day at the chain’s 57 hotels, all 25,000 employees participate in a 15-minute "lineup" to talk about one of the basics. The ritual makes Ritz-Carlton one of the few large companies that set aside time for a daily discussion of core values.

6. Eschew Technology, Except Where It Improves Service. Other hotels may be experimenting with automated check-in kiosks, but not Ritz-Carlton. "We will not replace human service with machines," says Vivian Deuschl, the company’s VP for public relations. Still, porters and doormen wear headsets, so when they spot your name on luggage tags, they can radio the information to the front desk. An in-house database called the Customer Loyalty Anticipation Satisfaction system stores guest preferences.

While you may work for or own a small company that cannot afford to invest the kind of money that Ritz-Carlton does to develop and train their staff, the commitment to a culture of "excellence at every level and every step of the way" that permeates the Ritz-Carlton organization, is something that every company can do. It won’t be easy; but of course if it was, everyone would do it.