There are few feelings that are as gratifying as closing your first deal as a new entrepreneur. All of your hard work and ingenuity have led up to that moment. Once you get one paying customer, you can start to snowball your business into a genuine competitor in your industry of choice.
While it’s nice to have paying customers, it’s even nicer to have the same paying customers again and again. Retention plays a huge role in the success of small businesses. Returning customers cost less to maintain, as you don’t have to fund marketing and outreach campaigns to meet sales quotas.
There are many reasons why your retention rates might not be as high as you would like. Identifying those reasons will allow you to improve your business model, so it continues to attract and retain customers at an efficient rate. Here are some of the most common reasons customers leave the companies they’ve done business with:
1. Unreasonable Pricing
When it comes to selecting a business for consumer needs, price tags are almost always the first consideration. Even if they don’t have a set budget in mind, most customers have an idea of how much they are willing to spend on certain items and services. Typically, the higher the price, the fewer customers you’ll see lining up.
Think about what you’re offering to the public. Let’s use the simple childhood summer gig of mowing the neighbor’s lawn. If you’re asking for 50 bucks to mow a single lawn, your neighbors will quickly accept the next offer that comes along at a more affordable price. When the supply of your service is low, you can sometimes get away with steep prices, but this business practice is not sustainable.
If you’re not sure what your pricing should be, take a look at your more established competitors. They have likely struggled with that same question and have settled on a price point after plenty of experimentation. You can make small adjustments based on their ideas to fit your business more precisely.
2. Quality Issues
To justify a higher price for products and services, you need to ensure the highest quality possible. Some customers are fine with a dip in quality if it leads to drastic savings. However, if a competitor can beat your price point and your level of quality, your customer base is going to dry up quickly.
As a rule of thumb, you should strive for the highest quality possible. Take pride in your work, avoiding cutting corners just to save a quick buck. Long-term success is often generated by high-quality craftsmanship, not slippery business tactics to try and maximize profits from day one.
As you increase your quality of work, it’s important to communicate these improvements in the industry news. Getting media placements highlighting these improvements can help differentiate your product and service. If a customer looks at your brand as an industry leader of quality, they are likely to pick you over other competitors.
3. Poor Customer Service
Even if you have the best product at the most reasonable price, customers can abandon ship if they’re not treated properly. Customer service can override or erase most of your other efforts. On the one hand, proper customer service can salvage a relationship and bring in lifelong customers. On the other, a poor customer service experience can drive customers away for good, even if you check all their other boxes.
Let’s say you’ve established yourself as the greatest restaurant in the city, sporting the finest menu and the largest selection of beverages. However, your servers have a tendency to be impatient and disrespectful. Do you think you’ll see a lot of customers make a return to your restaurant even though it serves the best food in town?
On the contrary, a small family-owned restaurant can often see many of the same customers coming through their doors each month. While their food might not shock the world, the warm atmosphere and customer service akin to visiting your grandparent’s house is enough to bring in regulars.
4. Limited Options
Customers love to feel as in control as possible when making purchasing decisions. This means providing a variety of options for them to consider. Too many options can feel overwhelming, but feeling underwhelmed by a lack of diversity can be just as bad for customer retention.
Concerns can stem from something as small as payment options. People can have strong preferences for payment methods and hope to be accommodated by businesses. Some prefer to stick with cash, others use a variety of credit cards, while others are still spending their leftover Bitcoin. The more payment methods you are able to accept, the fewer customers you’ll end up turning away.
A diverse portfolio also helps with retention. If you’re only providing one product, your customer base is going to remain small. The more quality products and services that you are able to provide, the more people you can get to stick around for the long haul.
5. Poor Security Protocols
We live in the information age. Personal information is shared all over the place, which makes a lot of interactions more convenient but also somewhat concerning. Scammers actively try to swoop into databases to get the information they can leverage for personal gain. Smart consumers are aware of this and choose to shop with businesses that are careful with the information they gather from customers.
Your website and any digital programs you use should be as secure as possible. Enable two-factor authentication, download data protection software, and only gather the data you really need to serve your customers. Make your efforts known to consumers, so they realize that you sincerely care about their safety and the well-being of their data.
Physical safety is also important. Is there anything in your store that needs to be more secure? Anything that you feel would make the customer feel safer is worth implementing. This could be security cameras in the parking lot to protect vehicles from damage and theft or adding lockers to the lobby for personal belongings.
6. High Employee Turnover
A high employee turnover rate says a few things about your business. First, it may depict a poor work environment that workers don’t want to stay in. Consumers are typically more willing to support a company that makes an effort to take care of its employees.
Additionally, a high turnover rate means you constantly need to hire and train new employees. New employees tend to make mistakes that can limit the customer experience. A business that never seems to have experienced workers won’t be fun to shop with very often.
Make a plan to reduce turnover for your sake and the sake of your customers. Put together benefits packages to attract and retain top talent in your industry. Invest in a good work environment and listen to the concerns of your team so you can continue to adapt in their favor. A positive and healthy work environment will lead to a more successful overall business. Even if employee turnover isn’t impacting how your customers feel about your business, it will save you a lot of time, money, and headache to have a consistent team to work with.
You may see customers leaving for one or many of the reasons listed above. Once you’re able to pinpoint your biggest problems, take action to address them right away. You can turn your former weaknesses into strengths and the new reasons why customers now choose to stay with your brand long-term.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Cottonbro Studio; Pexels; Thank you!