Businesses go under; a new person takes over that has a friend in the same business as you; head office makes changes and no longer will allow your contact to deal with your company...etc. All we can do is service our customers like they have never been serviced before, keep our pricing in check and hope they continue to work with us when changes happen. Or is that all we can do?
Last year, a large customer and a few smaller customers stopped buying from me. Was it service? Was it pricing? Was it a personality conflict between myself and someone new at their company? No. I did my follow up, as we should all do when customers leave. As it turned out, these companies are governed by head offices and changes were made to all their ordering. They had set up national contracts with other vendors, so I was on the outside looking in. I have some national contracts and they are wonderful to have but were extremely difficult to get in to. It takes time and patience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even given the chance as these people had other plans in mind, even though the people I had dealt with had put in a good word for me and tried to connect me with the powers that be.
So how can we be proactive with our customers to avoid possibly losing them due to attrition? Here’s a few lessons I have learned (some the hard way) that have worked well for me over the years.
Keep in constant contact with your customers. Whether it’s a phone call, email or an in-person visit, make sure you are checking in with them on a regular basis.
Find out who they report to and ask to be introduced so you can also thank them for their business. This can make your contact look like a champ for dealing with you and always getting the best deal for their company. This may also help you become part of a national solution should their company be looking for one.
Reward them. Throughout the year, drop off a little thank you item or take them for lunch. These little things can go a long way in keeping you top-of-mind, and frankly, not too many businesses seem to be doing it anymore.
Send business their way. Who do you know that could benefit from doing business with your customers? It’s one great way of giving back to those who support your business.
Ask your customers where they are struggling. You may have suppliers that can help them out. It’s a great way to deepen your relationship with them.
Ask for referrals. The easiest way to grow your business is to ask for referrals from those companies you have been dealing with for a long time who love what you do. I have some customers now who are third- or fourth-generation customers of mine.
Knowing early in 2018 that I was losing a few key pieces of business made me push even harder to deepen my relationships and find some new customers. Attrition will always happen. It’s a part of being in business. Being proactive and working your customers as much as you can, will help you lessen the blow and even grow your business.
Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer servicce for over 15 years. For more information, visit russdantu.com or email
At Your Service: Battling customer attrition
A proactive approach can reduce the impact of unavoidable customer loss.
I’ve known from being in business and managing a business for many years that customer attrition happens no matter what we do. There are certain variables we cannot control.