Repair customer experience when customers refuse to come back

Repair customer experience when customers refuse to come back
5 minutes read

It goes without saying that some customer experiences leave a sour taste. Yes, something went wrong that means you voted with your feet and went elsewhere. In some cases, particularly where there are lots of products and brands (e.g. CPG and FMCG), the impact is slight. In other cases, customers are burnt so badly that they consider your brand ‘toxic’ or high risk. So, what causes customers to run for the hills? What causes customers to leave and never look back? How do you convince them to return? Read more about how to repair customer experience when customers refuse to come back.


Customer experience in focus

We consider customer experience (CX) to be the emotional and physiological response to any touchpoint with an organisation. Great or awful CX tends to cause a positive emotional response or a negative emotional response. In short, great CX makes us happy, content and delighted whereas awful CX makes us angry, sad and upset. The majority of emotions lead to physiological responses from our bodies, such as in gestures, posture, facial expressions and pupil dilation.

Additionally, beyond the responses that we can see, there may be changes in the parts of the brain that are activated, our heart rate, perspiration and the release of hormones. In summary, it is a complex interaction of exposure to and contact with an organisation or business that causes us to feel and respond in a particular way. Crucially, it is something that happens at any interaction from viewing a web page to an online chat or from a telephone call to receiving a parcel. So, what causes customers to go running for the hills?


Customers running for the hills

As you would imagine, a product that fails to live up to its claims, a rude staff member, a late delivery or a cold pizza are all examples of experiences that we will collectively call disappointing. In each case, the context for the customer and the importance they place upon the product or service will influence the activation or strength of the emotion. A cold pizza may be chalked up as a one-off if the delivery person was apologetic. A defective or inadequate product may be shrugged off if the cost and stakes are low. However, if you imagine that all of these happened around your partner’s birthday, you may be stressed or angry. This is more likely to make you consider other alternatives.


Customers who never look back

The brain is lazy. For an organ that consumes up to 30% of our energy in a day, it has to be adept at conserving energy for our survival. As a result, the grey matter relies on a bewildering array of mental ‘shortcuts’. A bit like the backlight on your mobile, it switches off quickly when you stop interacting with the device to save battery. If you deliver a product or service that causes the brain to work hard, you may lead them to consider alternatives. Similarly, our brains are hardwired to avoid risk – a primitive trigger that ensures our survival. A little like the BIOS in a computer, it kicks in before the operating system or programs, intuitively responding and avoiding the source(s) of danger.

The easier it is to substitute your product or service with another, the higher the risk of customers to never look back if you mess up. Lots of companies offer services with contracts so that they make a known level of profit before customers leave. If their competitors are similar or worse than their service, the customer may return one day. When a product is poor, the response of the retailer or manufacturer may decide how you proceed from here. If there are lots of alternatives, the business may never find out why the customer chose another product.


B2B customers who never look back

Translating the above into B2B, your customers are likely directors of another company. Your service enables their business to operate or deliver its products or services for customers. Your products may go into their stores or warehouses, feed their production process or be consumed in the course of business. The larger the organisation or business that you are supplying, the higher the stakes and money involved. If the customer has a high focus on CX, your service levels have to be top notch.

For those in B2B2C businesses, your own service or product ends up with your customer’s customers. This in turn affects their reputation and repeat business. A loss of reputation and/or a substantial loss of business is likely to cause a range of negative emotions. Crucially, the stronger and more repetitive the stimulus that causes the negative response, the more likely that your customer is to find any solution to avoid that risk. If strong enough, they may always perceive you as a risk.


Repair customer experience and perception

A fleeting breach of customer expectations is one thing. A long-held perception that your brand is risky and your products and/or services are poor is hard to overcome. Just ask Gerald Ratner, former CEO of Ratners jewellers, who destroyed his brand perception in a few seconds. “People say: How can you sell this for such a low price? I say: Because it’s total crap.” This now infamous quote is synonymous with our perception of Ratners and we will always associate it with Gerald Ratner. Where a business has sold dangerous products, failed to live up to service levels during a contract or caused financial loss to customers, the journey is long and hard. For example, measuring Net Promoter Score (NPS), Trustpilot ratings or Google reviews for current customers is interesting, but who is counting those that intend never to return?

Ultimately, you need to change the perception of your products or business. This starts with your brand and ends with your customer experience. In some cases, brand perception takes years or decades to shift to positivity, depending on the offence. Moving from haphazard CX to end-to-end customer experience excellence also takes time. It’s time to think about how your previous customers perceive you, particularly if your growth has flatlined. Yes, that means seeking insight from customers who ran for the hills, possibly some years ago. In summary, it may be uncomfortable, but your ex-clients or ex-customers must perceive you as reducing their risk (B2B) or enhancing their lives (B2C).


Repair your customer experience with neuroexperience

Think Beyond offers a range of scientific tools to help you measure how people feel about and perceive your CX. There are very few ways to measure CX across all touchpoints but we seek to do just that with neuroscience combined with other tools and techniques. We also look at people who are not your customers to get a broader view of the opportunity you can convert.

If you would like to discuss how to repair customer experience, simply email or request an introductory call.

Finally, why not read an example of how we measured the CX of our customers’ prospects.