3 Ways to Solve Growing Customer Retention Problems

A loyal customer does not equal a loyal customer. Discover the main obstacles to customer retention and what you can do to overcome them.

This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. As far back as I can remember, there’s never been a better chance to prove to your customers why they should still do business with you. Plus, there’s never been a better chance of stealing customers from the competition.

Let’s talk for a moment about loyalty. True customer retention goes beyond retaining customers. Loyalty is linked to an emotion. If the customers are really loyal to you, they will give you the opportunity to redeem yourself if something goes wrong. They are more tolerant. They want to continue doing business with you. And they will, at least up to a point.

Regular customers are not loyal, even if they seem to be. They come back because your prices are lower, you’re more convenient than a competitor, or for some other reason you may not know about (unless you ask).

Today, three main issues drive loyal and repeat customers to competitors. The first is the shortage of employees. Poor service due to lack of employees frustrates customers. The second is product availability – in fact, the lack of product availability. If you can’t get the merchandise your customers need and want, they can find someone else who can. And the third is inflation. Rising prices may cause more price sensitivity than usual.

These three issues open the door for a competitor to disrupt the loyalty you’ve created – or for you to take a customer from a competitor.

Related Article: Innovate, Pivot, or Stay the Course: How Customer Experience Responds to Disruption

Lack of employees

Some call it The big resignation. It’s not so much a resignation as a realignment. And if your employees aren’t staying, it could have something to do with how they’re treated and compensated.

Customers notice it. They show up at the restaurant and the service is slow which is another way of saying bad service. Companies are reducing their hours due to the difficulty in finding employees. Customers leave frustrated or go to a competitor who is open.

Yet with all the talk of employee shortages, some brands don’t seem to be affected. For example, Target is experiencing record turnover. Just study the best companies to work for on Glassdoor.com and you’ll see a list of companies bucking the employee shortage trend.

Lack of merchandise

Supply chain issues have impacted many industries in both B2C and B2B sectors. The problem is simple. If you don’t have the goods, it doesn’t matter if your customers are loyal or faithful, they will find what they want elsewhere.

This is where it gets dangerousespecially if the only reason they do business with you is because of what you sell, not how you sell (and serve) the customer.

Inflation

As if employee and supply chain issues weren’t enough, we are now facing inflation at levels we haven’t seen in decades. We can’t ignore an issue that is forcing customers to become price sensitive. Rising costs force higher prices. And while a great customer experience may make price less relevant, it doesn’t make it completely irrelevant.

Related Article: You Can’t Get Loyal Customers Without Loyal Employees

3 ways to capture and retain customers

These three issues have come together to create a perfect storm that disrupts customer loyalty. Now that we know them, here are some thoughts on customer retention or how to amaze new customers who turn away from your competitors.

  1. Don’t skimp where it’s obvious: The current economic climate is difficult for many industries. For some, the answer is to cut costs. Don’t cut where it’s obvious. Find places to save money that customers won’t notice.
  2. Look at employee compensation: The big resignation is the wrong name. Rather, it is a major realignment. Employees leave work. They leave for better opportunities. Often these opportunities are tied to better compensation, which includes salary, insurance, days off (PTO) and more. Sometimes it’s a flexible work environment (home or office, or a combination of both). If paying employees more (with dollars and benefits) will keep them, it might be worth it. You should ask yourself if it’s cheaper to pay employees a little more than to lose customers or tarnish your reputation with poor service.
  3. Offer customers the products and merchandise they want: If you don’t have what customers are asking for, find alternatives. If the other options don’t satisfy the customer, help them buy from a competitor. Or go to a competitor and buy the product for the customer. If you do it right, the customer will realize that you are more interested in getting what they want and need than earning a few dollars on a single transaction. It can prove that you are as loyal to them as you would like them to be to you.

These three ideas only scratch the surface to keep customers from leaving you for your competitors. Use these ideas as conversation starters for the next meeting with your leadership team. Keeping your customers is more important than ever. Don’t let short-term issues, big as they may seem, ruin your long-term relationship with your customers.

Joseph P. Harris