The Number One Reason Customers Churn And What You Can Do About It
It’s easy to think that the reasons for churn are out of your control: maybe the customer got a better offer from a competitor or maybe your product just wasn’t the right fit. Surprisingly, this is far from the truth.
Your customers are almost five times more likely to stop buying from you because they feel you’re indifferent to them, than because they are unhappy with your product.
Research shows that 68% of consumers stop buying from a company because of perceived indifference – a lack of caring expressed by a company through their representatives and employees. Sure, some stop buying because of price, product or personal reasons – but apparently the majority leave because of bad customer service.
Churning customers are the ultimate testimonial to the infamous study about the “Delivery Gap” by Bain & Co1. The findings of the study were staggering: 80% of the companies surveyed said that they offer superior customer service, but only 8% of their customers agreed with them.
So clearly, there is perceived indifference. And while products and interfaces can be frustrating and unintuitive, they rarely elicit a feeling of “indifference” in the user. Expressing care – or lack thereof – is mainly reserved to human interactions. When we communicate, be it face-to-face, over email or a contact form, we connect and form a relationship. As with every relationship, if handled poorly – it can make the other party feel uncared for.
What causes this “perceived indifference”?
The reasons for perceived indifference vary, but are often related to complaints going unanswered and inconsistent follow-ups. If your service team is consistently struggling with long response times, it’s also another signal to your customers that you don’t really care about them after checkout. Fundamentally, all these reasons are related to poorly assigned resources and lack of appropriate tools for service agents to do their jobs well. It’s hard for them to show that they care, when they lack the tools and processes to do so.
So, the good news is that churn is almost entirely within your control: all you have to do is let your customers know you appreciate them, and their business.
To that end, let’s review the three most common signals of indifference that your customers should never experience when interacting with your customer service – and how you can fix them.
1.Silence of the customer service.
There is no clearer way to tell your prospective or existing customers that they are not important to you than a complete lack of response. Imagine you’re contacting customer service via email – perhaps you’re interested in buying their product, or have an after-sales question or problems with the product. You check your email repeatedly for a reply. A day goes by, then another, then another. But there’s radio silence – you don’t get a response.
How to avoid this:
The first quick fix is a no-brainer: acknowledge the message received. Send all incoming contacts an auto-reply acknowledging their email, ideally with a ticket number they can refer to in case they decide to call (nobody wants to spell their name or email address over the phone). An auto-reply is also an opportunity to manage expectations: don’t say you’ll get back to them within 24 hours if you know your team is understaffed and it’ll take at least 48 hours.
An auto-reply is also a place to encourage your customer to keep an ongoing connection: you can invite them to send another email if they have additional information that can help resolve the issue faster. Advanced automails can even include links to FAQ articles so your customer can try to resolve the problem on their own.
For example, Freshdesk sends an email notification to customers when they create a ticket in the helpdesk. These auto-replies are also configurable to your needs: you can even have a customised message for contacts arriving outside business hours.
Another way is to skip the email/contact form altogether! You can introduce other attractive channels of getting in touch with you, such as social media service, live chats and automated chatbots.
2.A reply that doesn’t apply.
When you get a response that does not address or solve the issue at hand, it shows indifference on a whole new level. Your customer got through to the people who can help them, but your service team did not even bother to read their message. Alternatively, perhaps they got an automated or a canned response, that has nothing to do with their problem. The verdict is clear: “We don’t care enough about you to read your message, let alone understand or properly address it”.
How to avoid this:
This one is trickier, but all the more important. This is a sign of an overwhelmed and disempowered customer service team. Get personal and start applying the “human touch”: address the customer by name, refer to their specific problems and their specific order items / account. Encourage your service team to go the extra mile to ensure the customer got what they wanted. Try to read their intent between the lines: sometimes what the customer asks for and what they really need are two different things.
Giving your customers some TLC doesn’t have to mean skyrocketing response times: there are new technologies, such as the customer service automation platform Solvemate, to tackle the most repetitive incoming requests (think: delivery times, payment methods, tracking orders etc.). Using a chatbot – such as Solvemate’s – to filter out the simple questions, allows your service team a more comfortable time-per-piece, and empowers them to give the personal attention and care where needed.
To take personalisation even further, if Solvemate cannot take care of the inquiry, the bot will do a handoff to Freshdesk and trigger a new ticket via a contact form, along with the chat transcript. This way, your service agents are immediately up to speed and can pick up where the bot left off, and your customers don’t need to repeat themselves.
Personalisation alone is not enough, as you need to measure your performance. Request feedback after every interaction, and have your CRM or helpdesk software send a CSAT survey to your customers asking about how the service was that day. It is recommended to do this consistently on every channel: phone, email & live chat – even your chatbot. This way you can keep a better overview of your customer satisfaction, and you can identify problems across the board.
3.Poor customer records or history
Repetition is the mother of all frustration. In this case – certainly so. Customers hate being passed around from one department and service agent to another, from waiting tune to waiting tune. They especially hate repeating themselves & telling their story a thousand times over. This is a cardinal sin of many call-centers: unclear responsibilities, incomplete follow-ups and a messy customer history, with no way to track the reported issues.
How to avoid this:
This problem stems from a lack of centralisation: a misalignment between agents and departments. In fact, it’s so easy to solve with modern software solutions, it’s rather shocking that the problem still exists.
Do you have standardised contact tracking for your service agents? When contacted by an angry customer, can your service agents immediately see the issue status, who replied, what and when – and where they should pick up the conversation?
In most cases, all you need is a modern, centralised help desk program that keeps a detailed customer history and tracks all customer interactions in one place. Syncing phone and email contacts is obvious, but all the contact channels you use should be integrated in the same CRM to avoid oversight and information gaps. If you use live chats or a chatbot as a means of service, you need to be able to transfer the chat transcripts to the respective customer history,when handing over to another agent or another support channel.
Great customer service is not rocket science – it’s about giving your customers the right help at the right time. All your service teams need to deliver that, are the right tools and processes. As a company, it’s a risky game making your customers feel like they’re taken for granted. If you are truly focused on improving your customer experience, you cannot afford to neglect your customer service. Start showing your customers some appreciation, and they will continue to reward you with their loyalty and business.