I had lunch with a friend this week. Over the last six to nine months, she has cancelled or not renewed three memberships to business associations or networking clubs and one on-line marketing / business listing site.
As regular readers of my blog know, I am a big believer in identifying your company’s customer touch points and then asking “What does my customer want, need and expect from me at this touch point?” One very important touch point is your response when a customer decides he or she decides to no longer do business with you.
None of the four organizations gave her a hassle when she let them know she was cancelling or not renewing. That is a positive. Unfortunately, not one of them asked her why she was leaving. One organization, the one she had been most actively involved in for over two years, sent a generic form letter, not even addressed to her, expressing disappointment in her decision. The others simply said nothing.
So I asked her why she left. One didn’t abide by their own code of conduct, one simply didn’t work from a timing perspective anymore, one had made political statements outside of her beliefs and one didn’t provide the results she was looking for. All valid reasons.
Customers who have been with you for an extended period of time and then decide to leave can provide valuable insight. Take the time to ask them why they are leaving. If you hear the same concern expressed over and over again, it’s an issue. Find a way to fix it. The organization that didn’t abide by their own code of conduct didn’t ask my friend why she left. She told them anyway and she’s heard they have made significant positive change in that area from members in that group.
Asking the question “Why are you leaving?” doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change. The reason “It’s not you, it’s me.” may very well be true. It is very possible the product or service you offer is simply no longer a fit for your customer. There is also the possibility that the customer wasn’t the right fit to begin with. Exit interviews with departing customers can help you better define your target market, providing you the information you need to focus on the people who benefit the most from the product or service you offer.
Asking the question “Why are you leaving?” is about ensuring you don’t lose the opportunity to become even better at what you do. It’s about demonstrating you value the opportunity you had to be of service and that you value the customer.
When talking about customer touch points, I also suggest looking for ways to exceed the customer’s expectation. One final way to demonstrate that you are truly service minded, that your concern is for the customer first, is to provide the departing customer information on other companies that can meet their needs. What a way to exceed a customer’s expectations and leave a positive last impression.