Facebook knows people are poised for a break up even before they know.   Turns out that certain indicators provide early-warning signs that something isn’t right.  Don’t you wish you knew as much about your customers as Facebook knows about your relationship?

broken heartWould it be helpful if you could identify dissatisfied or unengaged customers?  What would you pay to know the same sorts of things about your customer relationships?  Big data might answer these questions, if you have it and use it.  Lacking those resources, here are some predictors to help you spot customers on the verge of defecting.

  1. High case/call volume and long duration issues – may represent fatigue with a non-functional product or service.  As in “oh no, not again!”
  2. No calls or trouble reports – a sign of disuse.  As troubling as a many or long cases are, the lack of cases is also an indicator that your customer relationship is on the rocks.
  3. Unreturned phone calls – this is a sign of disengagement.   It may arise because the people you normally work with have moved on.  The more troubling aspect is if your company has lost its relevance.

Well and good to know the problems… what about solving them?

  1. Check a mismatch between product functionality and customer expectations – sometimes your product isn’t the problem.  Check the customer’s goals.   You may find the customer expected something from the product, which isn’t possible.  Or you may find that your product does address the need but the customer doesn’t know how to use the product. Either way, your company needs to know!
  2. Assign a top resource to address – treating a disengaged customer with kid gloves and some extra TLC pays dividends.  “You are important to us” is always a good message to send!
  3. Look for patterns – choose a customer with which you are concerned.  Look at your interactions with them over the last 90 days.  Totally silent? You may have a disengagement issue.  Lots of communication?  Your customer may be getting tired of working with you if they feel they are re-hashing the same problems over and over again.
  4. Re-establish face-to-face contact with the customer – let’s agree that we serve people.  Our e-connections may facilitate business, but they can be harmful if they avoid real relationships with people.  The renewed contact may mean re-selling the value proposition.

Not all relationships are worth saving (learn when to cut your losses).  When they are, be cognizant of the telltale signs.  Even if you don’t have as much data as Facebook, you can still spot signs that your customers are ready to break up and move on.  What’s more, the pivot point – you can salvage the relationship.

Which signs does your business use to spot problems early?

Customer Relationship Problems – Telltale Signs
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