A lost customer is painful for your business – both for your bottom line and your ego.
The importance of customer retention isn’t to be taken lightly. That’s why, in this article, we take a look at how to use exit interviews and surveys to improve customer retention.
You may be wondering, “What’s the purpose? After all, they’ve already left my company?”
The purpose of conducting exit interviews and sending surveys is to find out what you did wrong, why the customer left the business, and how you can improve so you keep more of your current customer base.
So, let’s get to it.
Customer Retention Stats
According to Score, the following can be said about an unhappy customer:
- For each one of your customers who complains, 26 remain silent.
- The average unhappy customer tells eight to 16 people about the bad experience.
- 91% of unhappy customers will never buy from you again.
- If you try to resolve a customer’s complaints, 82-95% percent of them will stay with you.
- It costs you about five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.
Those are some heavy prices to pay for lost customers. Now, wouldn’t it be nice to know why they are leaving and what you could do differently in the future to prevent such a loss?
The Customer Exit Interview
One way to gain customer feedback is through the exit interview. Basically you want to know why your customer jumped ship. Was it something you did, or did they find a better, cheaper product elsewhere?
Whatever the reason, you want to know more about your customer’s departure. You use the exit interview to improve and prevent future customers from leaving.
If you choose to do an in-person or over the phone exit interview in lieu of a digital survey, you can pick up on cues that a digital survey doesn’t always provide.
Here are some sample questions you can use to conduct your exit interview. Be sure to tailor these questions for your products and services as well as for the person you are interviewing.
- What did (or didn’t) you like about our services/products? Right off you’ll learn what they did like. This question is an automatic segue into what they didn’t like. Take your time with this question so you can learn what works and what doesn’t.
- Tell me about your experience with our sales staff/customer service staff/technical staff? Be open-minded. You might not always like what you hear. But, this is your chance to hear about the things that need improvement. You just might hear a new way to do something that will work for your staff and your customers.
- What could we have done differently? This lets your customer feel a part of the process and share his thoughts. He now becomes an active participant in the change. This is a great question as it allows you to pinpoint exactly what’s bothersome to your customer.
- Did we communicate well? Use the feedback you get here to improve your employees’ job performance. Don’t get on the defensive – listen and empathize.
- Did we meet your expectations? (If not, what could we have done differently?) Did you fail to meet their needs? Did you set customer expectations for your product or service too high? Did you over-promise and under deliver? Knowing where you failed gives you the power to make a change.
Exit interviews are powerful tools because your customer doesn’t have anything to lose by being honest with you. Be sure you take the feedback into consideration and make the necessary adjustments.
You can also take the exit interview one step further by letting the customer know when you’ve evaluated their feedback and made the improvements. This is an opportunity to actually get the customer back.
The Customer Exit Survey
For most of your customers, the exit survey is going to be the tool of choice. People are busy with their day-to-day lives, and the digital exit survey is easier for most of your customers.
You have two choices when it comes to the exit survey: the closed-ended survey and the open-ended survey.
The close-ended survey can definitely work for you, but it doesn’t leave room for customer comments. It’s simple a survey with “closed” answers.
For example, in a closed-ended survey, you might ask something like, “Why did you cancel your account.” Underneath you’d include check boxes for answers: too expensive, found a better product elsewhere, no longer interested, etc.
You can see how this type of survey is closed-ended. You will have very quantifiable data that you can arrange neatly into a spreadsheet, but you won’t have the actual reasoning behind the customer churn.
When it comes to the open-ended survey, you most often need to ask only one question. You aren’t offering any pre-filled questions with this survey.
Consider sending a survey addressed to the customer personally that says something like this:
“Dear Susan, Thank you for being a customer of XYZ these past few years. We’re sorry to see you go. Here’s a quick question we hope you answer to help us improve our service. What made you leave? Thank you for taking the time to answer our question! Sincerely, Bob Smith”
There is no personal attack and no leading questions. Just a simple question that opens the door to an answer.
When using an exit survey, be sure to optimize your question(s). If the first survey didn’t work well, revise your questions and try again.
Hearing negative things about your company is never easy. The trick is to not let it bother you and to do something about it.
By collecting feedback through exit interviews and surveys, you are taking the first important step in improving your products, services and systems. The next step is actually measuring the feedback and acting on it.
When you leverage and use the feedback to make changes, you are driving future business to your company and ensuring you’re solving and eliminating customer problems.
You will improve customer retention and customer satisfaction when you collect feedback and change your processes. Exit interviews and surveys allow you to make positive changes that affect your customer retention rate.
What’s more, you might even have a chance to get the lost customer back once you’ve changed the thing that bothered them.
Are you ready to squeeze more profit out of your website by using customer retention tools to skyrocket growth among your current customers? That’s terrific! We’re here to help you optimize your website to increase your retention rates. In fact, we promise you we’ll do just that.
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Image: Carlos Martinez