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Did you ever wonder why a specific customer stopped doing business with your company? You realise one day that you haven’t seen a certain familiar face, or heard that customer’s voice for a period of time, and you speculate – did he or she move? Pass away? There are studies to tell you the general reasons that customers defect, and they are helpful in creating customer loyalty strategies to retain customers, but they will not give you a specific answer about a specific customer.

A friend of mine, Chic Thompson, was a loyal, super-frequent flier with one airline for many years. He made 80 round-trip flights each year, all over the world, offering workshops and speaking on creativity. But one day, he was diagnosed with a medical condition that nearly put an end to his flying, preventing him from making long trips. He went from an elite status flier with a plethora of perks such as free first-class upgrades, to taking just a few flights a year, losing the special benefits that he once enjoyed.

Chic thought that surely someone from the airline would notice his absence, but he never heard from anyone. He was surprised that with all the airline had done to get his business in the past, no one seemed to notice the decrease in his travels and ask him why.

If the airline has asked, it would have found out that Chic still wanted to fly. He enjoyed the frequent flier perks, the customer service, etc. But now that he is unable to keep up the schedule of frequent flights, the airline seems to have lost interest in him.

In contrast, when I returned from a two-week vacation, I had a message from the owner of the gym to which I belong; saying he hadn’t seen me for a while and wanted to make sure I was okay. When I failed to renew a magazine subscription, I even received a letter a few weeks later stating, “We want you back.” Sure, that’s marketing and sales – but it still makes the customer feel noticed and appreciated.

Caring is an important key to building customer loyalty, and not just caring about getting the customer’s business. Yes, this is important, but beyond marketing and sales to get and keep the customer, there should be some actual concern – enough to notice a regular customer’s absence, even if you can only guess at the reason, be it price, service or something altogether different.

It is worth your time to try to find out the reasons why a customer isn’t doing business with you anymore. As in Chic Thompson’s case, there may be a specific reason. Perhaps, even though you have lost the customer’s business, he or she likes your product or service, but for whatever reason is unable to purchase or use it because of a change in circumstances. If you care enough to ask why, you may still be able to retain them as “evangelists” who promote your offerings to friends and family. They are still valuable partners for your business.

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About Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession.

Shep works with companies and organisations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more articles on customer service and business, go to http://www.hyken.com.

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