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It’s great to have raving fans and it’s great to concentrate on attracting new customers to offset lost customers, but do you know how you lost those customers in the first place?
You probably stopped doing the very things that got you raving fans, created an exceptional experience and attracted new customers when you first started. Here are three examples…
For the first time in several months, I went to the movies. I arrived at 4:10 for a 4:20 showing. Teasers for an ABC television series were already showing which was obnoxious enough, but commercial after commercial went on after that. Then previews. Then authorized previews. Well, it was too much.
The movie didn’t finally start until 4:45, I’d waited 25 minutes for my movie to begin. Paying for a movie ticket used to exempt us from watching commercials. And you don’t want to show up 20 minutes later to a dark theater where you climb over people to get a lousy seat.
Fitch rating believes ”revenues and the profitability of movie theaters could be increasingly challenged by factors that are largely out of management's control.”
I have a different take…
Movie exhibitors have created such a rotten customer experience that they are pushing them out the door…
They have ruined the special experience of it. They’ve added so much garbage, it’s become more like watching network TV than having that special night out.
And I get it, attendance is down so movie theaters are trying to make up the losses by showing more ads and charging more per ticket, but that is creating even lower attendance.
Or how about this restaurant experience?
A buddy of mine was raving about one of his favorite restaurants a few years ago. The waiter placed fresh baked Italian bread on every table when you first sat down. Besides the food, it was what drew people to the Brooklyn eatery for years.
One day one of the sons left. Soon after, so too did the bread. My friend asked why. “The bread making took too much time.” Soon after that, the customers stopped coming in. The restaurant added a lunch menu. And discounts. Nothing worked and they recently closed saying it was the economy.
Then this past Sunday...
I went to see the Broadway musical Kinky Boots. (Great show by the way.) It was 94 degrees and humid. The doors didn’t open until ten minutes prior to the start.
This was a big change from days doors would open a half hour prior and you had time to get a drink, go to the bathroom and peruse the souvenirs. Sunday, 1400 customers - who paid anywhere from $100 - $400 to see a hot show - were trying to get out of the heat and into the air-conditioned theater, but they were forced to wait in a long line in the hot sun.
I asked one of the ushers, “Were we waiting in the sun because they were too cheap to have you come in a half hour early to get the house ready?” She looked like I had just learned a dirty secret. “You are exactly right,” she said.
Movie theaters are losing the repeat business from the people most likely to return – those who paid a ticket. Restaurants are losing repeat business from cutting out signature parts of their experience. Theaters are losing additional drink and souvenir business from well-heeled customers looking to have a theater experience, not just see a show.
Wondering how to win back customers? That's the wrong question...this is the right question:
What have you stopped doing for your customers?
Was it was too expensive?
Were you were trying to make up lost revenue?
Did it take too much time?
What did we used to provide, offer or do for our customers that we’ve stopped? Why did we stop and should we bring it back?
And I’m not talking about offering iPads or kiosks or free shipping. I’m talking about the actual customer experience inside your four walls.
Unless you’re looking at that, you may be pushing customers out your doors and into the arms of an online retailer or other competitor.
I’d suggest one of the biggest things you’ve cut down on is training your employees. That’s why I created SalesRX to help retailers provide an exceptional experience. Find out more here. While this is always true, my experience at Kinky Boots caused me to draw your attention to this issue today.
In that light, I asked my Facebook fans what some of their favorite businesses had stopped doing that they used to do for their customers.
Here’s what they said:
They lowered quality items. “A supplier I used specialized in excellent quality sterling silver and then stopped carrying it; they said that they felt it was too expensive. They now offer lower quality goods and I no longer order from them.” - Donna Wasilewski
They made me feel unimportant. “They sent me a card on my birthday and staff always welcomed me by name - now it isn't important to learn their regulars’ names.” - Brenda Stansfield.
“[They called] my phone, emailed or texted me for a sale.” - Jill Klucher
A personalized note came with an order once, signed by the employee that packed it with a clear "Thank you!" A few years later, from the same store I received a scribbled signature that wasn't even legible. I thought "why even bother, if you aren't going to make the effort anymore?" – Tamara Champion
The owner stopped greeting me. “There's a restaurant I’d go to and the owner would always come to the table and talk about the menu. Now he barely says hello.” - Veronica Schwab
They made checkout harder for me. “I hate it when you get ready to check out and they have only 2 of 20 registers open.” - Judy Baker Schall
“My grocery store cut out their bagger positions and I was ticked that I had to ask for someone to load my $300 in groceries myself. I switched stores at that point. Service is key.” - Lori Carlisle
Theresa Watts said, “Great question! As I reflect on my own favorite places and think about the things I stopped doing in my own business... like offering spa water on the weekends. I'm sure it matters, it is difficult to determine what small thing really matters!”
That’s so true. While speaking in San Francisco last weekend, a Facebook fan told me she followed me “back when you used to welcome every single person who joined your fan page. I guess you’re too busy.”
Ouch! Even the Retail Doctor stopped doing something that his followers thought was special. Mea culpa to the several thousand who have joined me since, I thank you now.
Are you guilty of pushing customers out the door? What are you going to bring back that set you apart? How will you let lost customers know you brought it back?
It can seem logical to cut costs wherever possible but in the three instances above, they cut past the fat and into the very bones of their success. Customer experience suffered.