15 Reasons Your Customers
Might Be Jumping Ship
Are you noticing your small business’s foot
traffic beginning to dwindle? Are you losing
customers who used to be regulars? We
know 15 reasons why this may be happening.
Your customer service is
less than perfect.
Think of this as the Disney principle: Treat your
customers like gold, and they’ll come back forever.
Neglect their needs, and you’ll be stuck watching
your customer retention plummet.
Every aspect of your customer-care process
needs to be operating at its peak: from answering
questions and taking phone calls to shipping product
and scheduling services. Friendly, efficient and
transparent are the adjectives to remember; create
a list of best practices, and train your employees
extensively. It’s the best way to win back your
The most successful brands are like people;
they have identifiable personalities, goals and
characteristic traits. If your company suffers from
multiple faces, customers will never be sure who you
really are, and they may never trust that any of those
faces are actually you.
Keep your credibility together by defining a brand
identity and sticking to it. There’s always room for
growth down the line, but creating a new persona for
each audience does little but confuse everyone.
Your marketing efforts
seem like an afterthought.
We all know the mantra: Build it, and they will
come. While this certainly true under particular
circumstances, it’s often misguided when it comes to
Small businesses need to make sure that potential
customers know who they are and what they do.
After all, you may have confidence in your product or
service, but new clients won’t.
If your marketing feels thrown together — your
signage is low quality, for instance, or your ads
are misspelled — people will pick up on that lack
of cohesion and often jump ship for a brand that
provides a more trustworthy point of view.
This one can be a double-edged sword. On one hand,
you don’t want to beat customers over the head with
constant contact. On the other, however, if you don’t
actively encourage an ongoing relationship, you’re
setting up a barrier to those customers returning.
The best way to avoid to this plight — and, for that
matter, to win back lost customers — is to create
a brand identity that speaks to your audience on
their level. Make the tone of your marketing friendly,
accessible and conversational; it not only positions
you as the expert, but it also gives you the aura of a
Of course, before you can engage with your
customers, you have to understand who they
Every marketing professional has stumbled into
this problem dozens of times: You’re happily
targeting a particular audience only to discover
that your actual audience is miles removed
from your plans. While you definitely want to
leave room for the aspirational customers, it’s
important to know precisely who’s buying your
products and services; it’s the only to give them
what they need.
Consider launching a focus group, or set up a
post-purchase online survey. You’ll be surprised
how much you can learn with just a few
carefully worded questions.
Brand storytelling is a somewhat nebulous concept.
It means different things for nearly every company,
and it doesn’t follow quite the same rules as writing
a book or shooting a film. For our purposes, brand
storytelling is all about creating immersive, dynamic
moments through a series of unifying themes.
Slapping your logo on anything that will stand still
is only part of the battle; successful brands weave a
narrative about who they are, what they do and why
they do it. Google Chrome, for instance, created a
stunning moment by featuring relatable characters
using the product to achieve familiar goals. The
ASPCA has melted hearts for years with its Sarah
McLachlan-led television spots.
Tell a story that resonates with people, and you’ll be
rewarded with years of repeat business.
Whether directly or indirectly, every company
makes a series of promises to its customers. Maybe
your storytelling promises that you’ll be the brand
that delivers peace of mind. Maybe your website
guarantees 100 percent satisfaction.
However you’ve achieved it, you’ve asked customers
for their trust — and if you break that trust, you run
the risk of losing them forever. Make a list of all the
promises specific to your brand, and use that list as
the guiding light for everything you do.
Every company wants to be where the customers
are, and more often than not, that place is online.
Not every brand has a reason to use Pinterest and
Instagram, but a navigable website and basic social
presence will do wonders for your reputation.
If customers can’t find you online, they often assume
that you simply don’t exist.
Email campaigns and newsletters are among
the best ways to engage customers, but be
careful with the pacing. If you’re sending
lackluster emails several times a day, even the
most loyal customers will reach the end of their
Send only high-quality content once or twice a
week; there’s a fine line between spreading the
word and becoming that obnoxious uncle who
forwards every inspirational chain letter that
lands in his inbox.
Your website is difficult
Customers who know and love your brand might
overlook this problem, but new clients won’t stand
for a website that makes no sense.
Skip the fancy graphics and animated images in
favor of a clean, user-friendly experience. You don’t
even need a professional web developer to help you
get there; plenty of easy-to-incorporate templates
exist for blogging platforms, and programs like
Adobe Muse let you build a site from scratch without
having to code a single line.
Marketing isn’t only about overt selling. The most
successful companies spend as much time creating
an emotional connection with customers as they
do directly asking those customers to purchase
If all of your interactions are focused on a buy-this-
now mentality, many new clients will simply walk
away. Pressure tactics are always more harmful than
You haven’t walked in your
Before a marketing consultant begins working on a
new campaign, he or she will often spend quite a bit
of time talking to potential customers in an effort to
understand how the product aligns with their daily
lives. This is how brands like Dove and Pampers
consistently forge connections with their audience:
by understanding what customers like and how they
spend their days.
If you haven’t taken the time to look through your
clients’ eyes, you can’t speak to them on a one-
to-one level. Never underestimate the power of
Your wait times are
Though it’s impossible to avoid bumps in the
road, consistent lead times are crucial to your
This applies to everything from customer
service to shipping and scheduling; if you can’t
create a basic set of expectations where long
waiting periods are clearly outside the norm,
customers will undoubtedly choose a brand
who can. Here, it’s not even about speed. It’s
Everyone’s tackled a project that feels less than
thrilling, but if you’re routinely bored by your
marketing efforts, your customers will be too.
Try to inject an element of fun into everything
you do; whether it’s incredibly friendly customer
service, witty website copy or surprise-and-delight
promotions, enthusiastic brand positioning works
wonders for your perceived confidence.
You haven’t given them a
reason to return.
We’ve saved the biggest hurdle for last. In order to
reap the benefits of customer retention, you have
to give those customers a reason to return. The
possibilities here are almost endless; some brands
encourage repeat visits with special offers while
others opt for semi-annual sales or special events.
One of the most reliable tactics, however, is setting
up a loyalty program. These members-only clubs
reward clients by offering a series of exclusive perks.
The most common example is the classic buy-ten-
get-one-free card, but don’t be afraid to get creative.
You can give your loyalty program a little extra
wow factor with sophisticated membership cards,
exclusive events and insider-only sales. You might
just find yourself with a few new customers who are
intrigued by the offerings.
And of course, here is our shameful plug: we at
FiveStars can help you create a fully customized
Your customers can sign up with just their phone
number, and it runs right on your POS. We work with
you to set up automated marketing and promotions
campaigns using the data we help you collect,
including incentives to bring back lapsed customers
and special rewards on birthdays. Setting up your
customer engagement and retention with FiveStars
allows you to sit back and relax; we do all the work
Learn more about us at fivestars.com.