I seem to have lost a customer around here someplace.

I seem to have lost a customer around here someplace.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

I seem to have lost a customer around here someplace.

How much is one customer worth?
How much does it cost to lose one customer?
More than you want to know.
More than you can measure in real dollars.

Most people only measure the dollar loss of a sale, or how much revenue was lost for the year. Big mistake. For openers, multiply that times twenty years. Rats. And don’t even begin to count the people they could have recommended (it would only make you sick). Then the REAL losses begin to pile up. Besides telling everyone in their immediate vicinity, they will they tell all their branches, their home office, other customers of yours (their peers and counterparts in other companies you serve); everyone at the next association meeting; everyone at the next annual trade show and convention — and (if you do a real bad job of recovery or service) report it to people in the industry media or local media. (ouch!) But that’s not the worst… your competition knows — especially the ones who took your business away. And they are celebrating or doing a war victory dance and TELLING EVERYONE (See, I told you it would make you sick). THE REAL COST IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “COST OF LOST” AND “COST TO FIX:” Now measure that against the cost of service, fixing, discounting or replacing the situation, defect or problem when you first learned of it. Seems like a pittance compared to the four paragraphs above. The painful part comes when you ask yourself “How did this happen? Could I have prevented this from happening? And, How can I prevent this from occurring again?

    Have you ever a lost a customer? Here’s how to win them back. (Major clues: you aren’t alone – and, it’s not a one man battle – and, it’s not a one-idea solution – and, you need your specific facts before and ideas can be formulated.) OK, here are the answers:

  1. Start by switching places with the customer. Try to use your stuff in their environment. Try to call yourself from their office. Wear their shoes, and walk around in them for a while.
  2. Ask your customer brutal questions. The ones you don’t want to hear the answers to. Get guerilla facts — hang out in the customers office and talk to (ask) lowest level of people who use your product — they always know the big answers and the real truth.
  3. Get your best team of positive thinkers together. Solve or resolve problems as a group – form the DSIU (don’t screw it up again) team.
  4. Bet BIG. Identify and know the big picture — and be willing to gamble on a (multi faceted) solution that has consensus from the group.
  5. Develop a core-issue base that could have prevented the situation from happening. You only have ten big, reoccurring problems. List and dissect them. Then benchmark the best practice for resolve. BUT: Prevention is the cheapest medicine. THAT is the biggest clue for where to start fixing the problem.
  6. Get small. Get great little ideas — lots of them — eliminate the dumb ones. Figure out detail and what kind of memorability that creates for the customer.
  7. Name your solutions. The new Gitomer Greeting method. Brand your solutions – especially the cool ideas that bring value to the customer.
  8. Ask yourself “what’s WOW about this solution or idea?” If the answer is “nothing,” don’t bother doing it.
  9. Ask the group how this solution prevent future occurrence of the same problem? If the answer is “it doesn’t,” don’t bother doing it.
  10. Ask the group how this solution will benefit the customer or build the customers business. If the answer is “it doesn’t,” don’t bother doing it.
  11. Get closer to the customer’s “real” life. Meals and ball games can reveal relevant truths that “arms length” relationships won’t uncover.
  12. How do you do this with your existing budget? You can’t. You MUST have a “win back” budget. Funds that are earmarked to fix problems, create resolve, and build goodwill.
  13. When you get back in — thank the customer for dumping you. Tell them that without the loss of their business, this innovative solution would never have been possible — and you are willing to offer some (major?) concessions for a RE-try at the business using these changes (notice I have not apologized or groveled – in my experience, customers are less interested in apology than they are in great ideas, recoverable actions, and solutions).

GET REAL: Know the difference between problem vs. symptom – Losing customers is a symptom. Poor service, late delivery, back-orders are problems.

Rule ONE: It never costs as much to fix the problem as it does to not fix the problem.

Rule TWO: It never costs as much to make the customer happy as it does to leave the customer mad. Winning back the customer is a huge morale victory as well as financial gain. There’s only one person angry when you get them back – your competition. Free GitBit. Now is the time to enact the Gitomer Customer Loyalty Formula, and prevent the loss. If you would like it, just go to www.gitomer.com (register if you’re a first time visitor) and enter the word LOYAL in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer, author of
The Sales Bible, and
Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based BuyGitomer, he gives seminars, runs weekly sales meetings via the internet, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com

(c) 2006