A recent conversation with a salon owner about the reasons customers stop coming in revealed a gap in the statistics – at least as far as she was concerned.
In the salon owner’s case, the biggest problem is not when a customer tells you why they are leaving; rather, it’s that they won’t tell you at all.
While consumers report that perceived employee indifference is what causes them to stop patronizing businesses most often, most business owners, especially small ones who work one-on-one with their clients – like salon owners, hairdressers and other personal service providers – are far from indifferent to their clients. And when a client leaves without saying, it’s enough to drive a hairstylist crazy!
If you have tried to find out the reasons that one or more of your customers stopped coming to your business to no avail, or you are unable to contact them, there are still ways that you can get an idea of what – if anything – caused them to move on.
Here are five ways to find out why your customer left.
1. Scrutinize their past interactions with your business.
What service did they last receive? What products did they last purchase? How much did they spend at their last appointment? Look for clues as to whether they experienced some type of disappointment at their last visit, or even whether their purchasing patterns changed over time.
2. Talk to everyone else who was there.
A good detective follows up with all witnesses. Even if you were the person who interacted with an individual most of the time, other staff members who were on the premises at the time of their last appointment or purchase may have observed or interacted with this customer. Ask whether they noted anything that seemed amiss during the appointment or after the time of service (or product purchase).
3. Don’t underestimate the value of social networks.
For some social media users, nearly every waking thought bears a status update. If your former customer is active on social networks, see if you can gather any information as to where they took their business. This might give you clues as to why they left, especially if they left for a competitor who convinced them they could better serve their needs. If you have mutual friends or acquaintances and feel comfortable doing so, you can even ask whether they know why your customer stopped coming to your business.
4. Do a competitive analysis.
Periodically surveying competitors to see how your business menu of services, products, pricing and customer service stacks up should be part of your business planning process on at least an annual basis. It can be helpful in revealing up-and-coming competitors that may attract your own clients.
5. Create a customer feedback program.
Finally–and don’t wait until customers leave to do this–conduct a customer satisfaction survey that includes customers that fit your ideal buyer profile, for instance, similar age range, gender, needs, interests, to look for potential problems in the customer experience, competitive disadvantages or other reasons why a customer might want to choose another provider.
There are other reasons that customers move on, as well. For instance, your business may have been convenient to their kid’s school or their job, either of which may have changed. They may have a close friend or family member who is now one of your competitors, or they may have followed the recommendation of friends in their social circle.
Elizabeth Kraus is the owner of Be InPulse branding, marketing and design, and the author of marketing books and marketing calendars (published annually) for salon and spa, including By the Numbers: The 2014 Salon and Spa Marketing Calendar, and 12 Months of Marketing for Salon and Spa, available on amazon.com.