Why customers don’t come back, and why I – as a customer – don’t (and do) come back

Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 has just announced that, in today’s show, he will be discussing Tesco’s annual loss of well over £5 billion, one of the biggest ever reported in UK corporate history, according to Sky News. So I googled ‘Why customers don’t come back’ and came across this great article by Allan Baylis, (world class speaker, author of The Magic Bullet and an international business consultant). As you can see, there are several reasons why customers don’t come back, one of which is because they’ve sadly died (hopefully not as a result of your product or service!). But the reason why, according to this article, ‘around 68% of your customers don’t come back because they perceive an attitude of indifference from you, or someone in your organization’.

Let’s go back to Mr Carpetman from the other day. I’m unlikely to return to his warehouse and buy a carpet because of his attitude. He was indifferent. He didn’t seem to care whether or not I bought a carpet or whether or not he delivered a friendly service and sales banter.

If it wasn’t for one particular individual who always seems to go out of his way to be helpful, I would be unlikely to return to my local Halfords store to buy stuff for my bike. On all the various times I’ve tried to call the store to ask a question or book my bike in for a service, I’m left hanging on the line. Nobody cares enough to get someone to take my call. And the face-to-face service I’ve received from the other bike counter staff has been pretty indifferent, too.

Yet last Monday I needed some chalk-based paint for an old Edwardian washstand I’d acquired. I’d read that the Annie Sloan range is the best, so I headed off to this little shop – Martha Heritage – in the Abbeydale Road area of Sheffield which is one of the few retailers in Yorkshire that stock it. And I received some of the best, friendliest and most genuine customer service ever. When I insisted that I needed two tins of paint, the lady behind the counter explained that actually I’d probably only need one because it goes a heck of a long way. She then walked me through the best way to use the paint as if she had all the time in the world. Some other customers in the shop chipped in with their recommendations. We had a fabulous chat.

So I actually walked out of the shop with one tin of paint instead of two (plus some wax and a paint brush). But because she was so nice and helpful, and I loved the way this little independent shop doubles as a cosy coffee shop, I know I will be back. I will also recommend this shop to other people, just as I am doing here.

Because, as the above article says, indifferent companies fail to realise that it’s not just about persuading customers to come back, it’s about losing vital word-of-mouth recommendations – a great source of free advertising.

It’s also about building a relationship with customers so they always think of you whenever they need to buy – in the above case – more paint or a special paint brush or patina wax, or even just a welcome cuppa and a slice of homemade cake.

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