These last few years have been trying for many business owners. Even if you were able to keep doors open during shutdowns, you probably felt that first hand.
Unstable economy. Growing uncertainty about the future. Fear of more shutdowns. There are so many things keeping you up at night.
So when you add lost clients into the mix, it can be incredibly frustrating.
More than ever, customers are swapping brands and jumping ships. Even if you have great relationships with clients, you can find out they’re cheating on your business.
Fortunately, just because brand loyalty isn’t as strong as it once was, that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring back customers who are testing the waters. Below, we’ll explore the top reasons clients leave businesses they love, as well as steps you can take to win them back.
The Impact COVID-19 Has on Customer Behavior
Business owners aren’t the only ones impacted by COVID-19. Your customers face a new onset of challenges and emotions we never would have imagined back in 2019, from additional household stress to loss of job security.
As a result, their emotional states, budgets, and priorities have all changed. And even if your product was perfect for them a year ago, they’re more willing to switch than ever.
A recent study from McKinsey & Company proves just that.
Keep in mind, the numbers discussed in the video below aren't totally accurate, because people over inflate some of their behaviors. However, I will tell you that from a behavioral perspective, those numbers are staggering.
Humans hate change. We’re habitual creatures. So the fact that we’re willing to break our routines and risk wasting money on brands we’ve never worked with before speaks volumes about customers’ emotional states.
Now more than ever, a lot of businesses out there have lost regular customers and don’t even know it. You may be thinking to yourself, “I just haven't heard from them in a while. They’re busy. They’ll reach back in a month or so.”
But in all actuality, they may be using your competitor right now.
The Main Reasons Customers Leave a Business
So what drives customers to abandon a brand they know and love? What potential benefits outweigh those risks in a time when risks are already high?
There are thousands of reasons why a client may go to a competitor. But chances are, one of these 3 things is to blame.
1. The competitors appeal to your customers' new emotional states.
Our emotions drive our behavior. Even things that seem unemotional, like the food you grab for lunch or the airline you choose to fly with, are influenced by what your emotions tell you in the moment of decision.
So if your customers are feeling insecure about their health, which chip brand are they going to choose: one that makes them feel like they’re doing something good for their body, or one that just tastes good?
It seems like a logical choice, but it’s much more primitive than that. We do what our heart tells us to at the moment, and our heart is heavily influenced by different fears, desires, and worries swimming around in our heads.
Take the legal industry, for instance. I recently worked with an attorney whose practice was losing customers at an alarming rate to Legal Zoom. His practice was exceptional. Great lawyers, good people. But even customers they had worked with in the past were opting for the cheap online legal services instead.
The reason people were leaving had nothing to do with the practice’s credibility, experience, or performance. It was because the attorneys weren’t tapping into what really differentiates them from cheaper legal services: a sense of control and emotional support.
Another thing to keep in mind is that customers’ emotional states have changed as a result of COVID-19. Someone who was once completely focused on achieving success may now be more concerned about safety or having more control over their lives.
So even if you have accurately tapped into your customers’ emotions in past years, chances are, they’re not in that place anymore. And if you don’t change, they’ll go to someone who will.
2. You're neglecting your marketing.
Another big problem businesses face today is a lack of marketing altogether. For many small businesses, like mom-and-pop restaurants or local contractors, word of mouth was always enough to keep doors open. Marketing was always an optional expense (and not always worth the investment).
But COVID-19 changed that. Now, you’re competing with faster, cheaper, more convenient options that customers can access from their couch. You can’t afford to let the other guys steal more of your business.
3. Your sales process has too much friction.
It doesn’t matter how spot-on your marketing is. A bad sales experience will turn customers away.
Unfortunately, many business owners add friction to their process without even realizing it. Friction can come in many forms, including:
- Poor communication from your sales team
- Too many forms to fill out on a landing page
- Overly pushy salespeople
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
How to Get Back Customers Lost from COVID-19
Some of your customers right now are trying out your competitor. Studies have shown just that. And as an entrepreneur myself, I know how hard that is to hear.
But just because a customer has gone to a competitor doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Motivational psychology can help you bring back customers who have left your business and even bring your current customers to a state of never wanting to leave you.
Here are 3 rules of thumb you can use to win back lost customers, keep existing customers engaged, and stop brand cheating before it happens.
1. Identify your customers' core desires.
If one of the biggest reasons customers leave businesses is that they don’t appeal to their emotional desires, your first course of action is to figure out what those desires are. There are nine emotional mindstates that drive all customer behavior, and each has its own characteristics.
So how can you identify the core desires that are in play with your audience’s personas?
The first thing to do is marketing research. You need to have conversations with people in your audience, to interact with your customers. Surveys and polls can help, but they won’t provide the same kinds of insights you’ll pick up on firsthand in a conversation with a previous customer.
A lot of small businesses out there can't do a lot of marketing research right now. I get that. It's hard to get people to take surveys now, let alone sit down for an hour-long conversation.
So the second-best thing to do is lay out those nine desires on notecards onto a table. Then, one by one, cut out the mindstates that don’t make sense. Gut instinct is often a good feeling to trust here.
Then, you should end up with a handful left. As you interview potential customers, ask questions to figure out which of the remaining mindstates fits them the most.
2. Appeal to that desire in all your contact with customers.
Once you have identified the core desire your customers have, you’ll need to appeal to that desire in each interaction you have with them. That includes:
- Blogs and content
- Sales emails
- And more
Appealing to their core desire involves more than using the right words. It involves the experience you provide. For instance, if your customers desire freedom or control, give them the freedom to choose their path, their deliverables, and price package.
If they’re desiring an engaging experience, make every aspect fun and unique.
If they care about competence, empower them to expand their knowledge with blogs, how-to videos, webinars, and training opportunities.
By providing them with an experience that matches the place they’re in emotionally, you’ll build a deeper relationship with clients and keep them engaged for years to come.
3. Avoid things that conflict with their core desires.
Just like there are certain things that appeal to customers’ desires, certain actions can drive away customers before they make a purchase.
For instance, if your customers’ mindstate is control, the last thing they want to experience is unexpected “surprises,” like a dropped meeting or sudden rise in price.
Things happen. Family members get sick, events come up, inflation rises. While you can’t control all the experiences you provide your customers, you can take steps to make sure those surprises aren’t so last minute.
Something as little as a notification a week ahead of time or a one-to-one conversation discussing changes can go a long way.
Here are other things to consider:
- Empowerment - Give them more control over their experience.
- Achievement - Give them small wins when working with you.
- Security - Provide protection to their most valuable things.
- Belonging - Connect them with others like them.
- Nurturance - How can you show them you truly value them?
- Engagement - Are you as fun and compelling as you can be?
- Esteem - Can you make them feel special by giving them status?
- Autonomy - Give them the ability for customization and freedom to choose.
Grow Your Business & Your Confidence with Mindstate Marketing
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t invested in marketing or you did but it didn’t provide a measurable lift. You can stretch your budget and make the most out of your investment by using behavioral psychology in your marketing.
My book Marketing to Mindstates will teach you how to do just that. This book teaches you how to break through the noisy, cluttered marketing world to get consistent results and increase your impact.
Click the button below to get a copy along with a workbook, practice sheet, and more.
And click here to watch the full Mindstate Marketing Hour episode featured in these clips.