business, customers

Are You Forcing Customers to Quit?

business man and woman at desk sign quiet on phone

Here are some interesting numbers that I came across this morning:

Why Customers Quit:

  • 1% die.
  • 3% move away.
  • 5% develop new friendships.
  • 9% for competitive reasons.
  • 14% product dissatisfaction.
  • 68% quit because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by some employee.

I know that this is true because I have been one of those customers–many, too many times–in almost every area of my life.

Restaurant: Friday night I sat in a restaurant with good friends laughing and talking and waiting for our food. 30 minutes after ordering I began to notice that there was no waitstaff to be found anywhere. I assumed it was a back in the kitchen, and when I got up to find someone, and it took a minute or two, the waitress came out and went over to the table behind me–the only person with food!

There was a flurry of activity after that. The manager came out to deliver meals, discovered that one order was put in wrong. He asked me if everything was alright and I told him our experience and that his waitress needing some re-training. He took care of the meal and made us feel better, but the young lady never came back until our bill was paid, and she straining to apologize for the mess up on the meal–not her avoidance of us. My friends left a horrible review on Yelp.

Medical: Visiting my father in Rehab following surgery, we asked to see the nurse discuss medicine changes. Two hours later as we were walking out, she was defensive about her schedule and inability to see us, jotted down our number and said she would call later. At 11 pm, we called them and the nurse on duty told us that “When we called she was supposed to help us.” Sadly she said she was new and didn’t have much information. The next day I asked to see the nurse again (same day nurse) she remembered me and said she would be in. Nowhere to be found after 45 minutes later, I went to the supervisor on duty. She came and was immediately defensive about what I was saying. She told me the nurse last night was “wrong and that what she meant to say was she was off duty for a week” (hmmm, how did she know that?) and then defended the day nurse, told us too much about the weekend staff and left. Our concern is dealt with as “complaints” and there is a terrible awkwardness to the relationship now.

Childcare: I spoke with a woman from one of my trainings last week who told me that she moved her child from a preschool recently because the teacher in the classroom was always telling her how busy she was, how little she knew about what was going on in the center, and recently her attitude that she (the parent) was taking up too much of her time. The parent tried to stay positive, complained a few times, but decided that if her child’s teacher was always too busy to know anything or help, then she needed to put her child in a safer environment.

All three are employees who are perceived as “not caring” and much too “distracted” to be serving customers. Looking closer they are all empathy issues, with a strong touch of “lack of training”—leading to the destruction of the relationship.

What is the purpose of our work? We are all here to serve customers. We all have them–every single person who works has customers. Yet we forget that without those people who pay money for our services and products, there would be no job in the first place.

So what needs to be done?

First, there is a huge gap in training these days. People are put on the floor, at their desk, in front of customers without the proper training and understanding of the company mission and values. How can anyone do a proper job if they don’t know what that job fully entails? My waitress didn’t know how to deal with the kitchen, nor did the other wait staff, so management is cutting back on something key here–train and teach your people their job! The preschool teacher and the nurse supervisor are both fighting the same battle: Their stress and overwork make them oblivious to their customers needs. They are so involved in their issues that they cannot understand what the customer feels.

Secondly, with budgets so tight, someone needs to sit down and figure out that losing customers costs more in the long run than training staff. Empathy is key. Knowing what the customer is feeling and needing is the first step to responding. Knowing your job. Here is a great video that can help us all to remember that our customers are living their own lives (

In the meantime, sit down with your team and ask them to put on their customers shoes for a moment. Write out what they are thinking, dealing with, and how they got to be in your business in the first place. What would they say? How do they feel?

Now step back and see if you are responding to them, or just pushing your own expertise or stress back as an excuse for not being kind and serving them.

I would love to know what exercises you use to train your staff in empathy. Are you talking about it? What are you saying?

Maria Bereket is a Social Media Stress Reliever! She is a Trainer, Designer & Small Business Strategist who helps busy professionals, business owners, and educators feel stress-free when setting up their social media profiles and marketing programs. Design Bear Marketing is her Social Media & Design Company. @mbear88

Source: Fotolia

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