Gone are the days where you would open a bank account and you would place all your banking, borrowing and insurance with that one institution. Customers are a transient lot and are easy lured by a better offer away from their current providers. They actively look around, they research and they quickly go elsewhere because of a better deal which will save them a few quid.

There is a small “however” that even though customers value low cost prices, they also value good quality and will pay more if they believe a product is of better quality. Even more important to this is when they spend their money with you they want to be treated with a certain level of respect; when they experience a problem they want it resolved in a timely and hassle free manner. Get this bit wrong and even the most loyal of customer will quickly pack their bags and put their money with your competitors.

I was reading a report published by the Customer Think Corporation who analysed the reasons why customer leave us and the results are astounding.

On average you lose 9% of your customers to your competition, 14% of your customers will go elsewhere due to problems with the product or service we supply. These figures directly reflect our competitors marketing and the overall quality of your product. However, these figures are dwarfed by the percentage of your customers which will leave you due to your poor customer service.

“68% of your customers will walk at some stage because you did not treat them at a level they feel their money deserved”.

If you did not resolve an issue with the product you sold them, or you did not ring them back when you said you would, or the promise you gave to resolve the issue was not resolve to their satisfaction they will most likely walk. Paying them compensation or giving a discount won’t help either, customers remember bad customer service and they will take your money then go to your competition on the first opportunity.

Ok so 68% is an average, for your organisation it may be half of this or even a quarter of this figure. Even at a quarter of this figure how much of a difference would retaining 17% of your customer make to your balance sheet?

It’s to this end that companies use a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). With your Customer Services residing in the same system as your Marketing and Sales activities you can see how new opportunities can arise. A good customer experience allows for successful marketing of new products, a happy customer is more likely to read your correspondence and recommend you to others. If your sales department are aware of outstanding service issues, it allows them to start a sales call with “I’m just looking into your issue” rather than dealing with the negativity from a customer who waited in the previous day for someone from your organisation to call them.

The latest version release of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM 2013 is now available as both on demand and on premise. Microsoft is continuing to drive this product forward and this release has a number of new customer services functions to manage your customer service activity:

• Countdown timers to ensure issues are dealt with in a timely manner
• Service Level Agreement (SLA) management
• Customer Entitlement
• Full end to end case management
• Automated routing of enquiry’s to the correct people
• Activity and event management to ensure you follow up tasks when you said you would

In conclusion, the easiest way to lose a loyal customer is to fail in your customer services. Gone are they days where a number of unrelated spreadsheets can manage the process of customer services. This is a complex area that’s more important than marketing and sales combined for customer retention and loyalty. Your customers will demand the best quality customer experience or their off.

If you want to find out more about how not to lose customers either call us or come to one of our free seminars hosted by the Sheffield IT Partnership.