The Way We Leave
I quit my dry cleaner this month. Bolted ... dropped the deuce. Peace out.
Quietly, without drama or fanfare, I switched from Drycleaner P to Drycleaner G. I never told the folks at P that I was leaving. I seriously doubt if they have noticed. Once I had made the switch, I told three friends about my experience.
Why did I leave? And more importantly, why should you care? My behavior as a consumer was wholly typical and representative ... it's a mini case study. I left my drycleaner for the same reasons--and in the same manner--that all customer leave all service businesses.
Reason #1 - Quality.
Drycleaner P stopped being careful with my clothing. I don't have time to replace buttons, and I don't like to spend more money to buy new pants that have been nuked at 1000 deg Kelvin with old press pads. So, their quality of service plummeted.
Reason #2 - Service Personnel.
At Drycleaner P, the long-time service rep (the clerk who greets you and takes care of your pick-ups and drop-offs was friendly, polite and helpful. The person who was hired to replace her was zombie-like in her glazed over, cold, distant manner. It comes down to the leadership (in this case the owners). I want--and I deserve--friendly service from nice people. (Hey- this is West Virginia, after all.)
Most customers, when they leave ... when they decide to quit you ... do not leave in a bombastic, confrontational way. In fact, most never even tell you that they are about to leave. They just leave. And it's because of the fact that 96% of humans prefer to avoid conflict or confrontation. We simply do not like to address the unpleasant stuff, like complaining about something. Ironically, they won't tell you that they are leaving, but they will tell others (4 to 5 people on average) why they left.
What does this mean for you and your business?
From a basic business perspective, it provides a very meaningful reminder that you can never quit striving to provide the best service at a very high quality level. It is an absolute must to have the best, most capable, friendly people interacting with your customers.
Where does marketing fit in this?
Now from a marketing perspective, this story demonstrates that you have to ask your customers if they are satisfied. They will not initiate such conversations. Ask them: "How are we doing?" "What could we do better?" "Have we done anything to irritate you or anything that has inconvenienced you lately?" Marketing geniuses understand that marketing is a conversation and also a feedback loop. They know that marketing serves two masters: 1- finding customers and 2- keeping them happy.