Do you know if you’re caring for customers adequately? It’s not that easy to find out.
96% of unhappy customers never make a complaint. Not to your face, anyway.
Oh sure, they’ll tell their friends and family. They’ll put the bad word out on the internet. But they won’t breathe a word to you. Most simply leave, never to do business with you again.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you can get into the minds of your customers, and I mean genuinely understand how they feel, you get the chance to learn the truth.
Are you brave enough to take it on board? Let’s hope so, because your business depends on it.
Take a deep breath. Open your heart.
I’m going to show you exactly what customers value, and how real humans experience your business service.
Are You Caring for Customers as Much as You Think?
The unfortunate answer is probably not.
Research shows that 68% of customers leave because they perceive you don’t appreciate them.
And what cements that belief in their minds?
It’s the small details. Signs you don’t care enough, or at all.
Your business represents a known form to your customer.
Think of it less like an entity, and more like a person – imbued with values, personality traits and character flaws. Because that’s how your customer experiences it.
Care for Customers Like You're Dating Them
Your customer views your brand like a prospective partner. They’re deciding how loved you make them feel, and whether you’ll make the final cut or not.
Sounds silly? Think again.
It turns out that 77% of consumers feel inefficient customer experiences detract from their quality of life.
I’ll say that again. Their quality of life. That’s not something to brush off with a light how’re-you-fine-thanks.
Your customers feel that you’re important to them. And they want to reassurance that they’re important to you too.
They’re assessing your ability to serve their needs. Are you living up to their hopes and dreams, or falling short?
Caring for customers can be so simple. It can mean the world to them when you remember their name. Just as it can devastate them when you’re indifferent towards them.
And when you consider that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience, it’s in your best interests to start caring for your customers properly.
Care About What Customers Value & Desire
Your customers are humans.
Full of real emotions. Temper tantrums, shitty partners, hormones, dying office plants, and work stress.
They carry sensitivities from being picked on as an awkward teenager. They get lonely, frustrated and overwhelmed.
They’re a hot mess of thoughts and feelings in any given moment.
Just like you.
They feel more than they let on. They get offended easily. Sure, they’re forgiving. They’ll let a few things slide. But ultimately, an unloved customer will free you of the burden of taking their money.
Customers need to feel appreciated, and that starts with the most basic rules of good customer service.
7 Signs You're Not Caring For Customers (aka Why I Broke up With a Local Cafe)
What follows is a personal account of interactions with a small cafe business.
As you read through, think about how these same oversights apply to your own business and industry.
It doesn’t matter if you own a coffee shop, boutique retail store, or handmade brand. These are common customer experience problems that all too often go under the radar.
Open your heart. Notice where you can relate. Note what makes you cringe and think, nah, not me. I’d never do that to my customers.
But we’re all guilty of dropping the ball sometimes.
This is not the story of a bad business. This is how small businesses slowly fall out of favour with loyal customers.
#1: You Stand Them Up
It’s Saturday and I feel like a treat.
I bounce outta bed, jump in the shower, skip my morning coffee and drive 15 minutes to come and visit you.
I’m excited to see you.
I’ve brought a book to keep me company while I wile away the hours sipping oat milk lattes and your delicious cheesecake in the sunny window seat.
But when I get to your building, I see you’re closed.
There’s no sign of you anywhere, and no explanation or apology pinned to your door. Nothing on your website or Facebook page either. What the hell, dude?
Guess I lucked out today. Oh well.
#2: You're Late. Again.
It’s Monday morning.
I’ve got a million things on the to-do list today. But I thought I’d drop in and pick up a fresh juice on my way to work.
Lord knows I need it today. My weekend turned out kinda intense. A few too many sparkling wines, perhaps. And I don’t recover like I used to when I was young…
The sign on your door says you’re open at 8:00 am. I know, because I double-checked last Saturday when I was standing there annoyed.
And now it’s 8:07 and you haven’t even flipped the closed sign over. Your A-frame isn’t out. You’ve hardly turned on the lights.
Dammit, now I’m gonna be late for work.
#3: You're Not Excited To See Them
There’s a distance growing between us.
But I’ve always liked you, so I’m giving you another try.
It’s Wednesday-week. I’ve wisened up. I’ll try you around midday, for lunch. Surely you’re open then.
And I’m in luck! Third attempt and I can finally catch up with you.
There’s a few customers here, not heaps. But you look exhausted. I get to the front counter, smile and ask you how you’re going.
“Yeah good we’re just flat out” is all you manage, without looking up for more than a second.
When you realise I’m that same woman that comes in every other week, you force a fake smile and make with the small talk. Mostly about yourself and how busy you are.
You even manage to ask me how I am, but I can tell it’s obligatory.
You don’t really care. That’s not what caring for customers looks like to me.
#4: You Break Your Promises
It’s ok. I can see you’re obviously under stress, though god only knows why. So I let you off the hook and get my order in fast.
No problem, because I pre-checked your menu online before I got here. I already know I exactly what I want – grilled fig salad. Sounds amazing.
It reminds me of summers at my grandma’s house. I used to love picking figs straight off the tree, I haven’t eaten many since I was a kid, but whenever I do, the memories come flooding back.
I beam as I announce my order and I can’t wait to sink my tee…. “That’s last month’s menu, we don’t have that anymore.”
“Wait, what? But it was online!”
“Oh sorry, that’s an old menu.”
(Ugh… you’re f$#%ing kidding me!)
But I don’t say that. Like most customers, I don’t complain. In fact, I try to hide my disappointment. I feel kinda embarrassed that I feel so let down. But I really do.
Grilled figs bring back so many good memories. And I miss my nan, a lot. You have no idea. And it’s not your problem either.
I don’t want to put that on you, you’re just a local business trying to get by. It’s ok that you didn’t update your menu, I wish you would, but whatever.
So I just order the first thing I see on the menu and take my sunken shoulders to a table up the back, as far away from your counter as possible.
#5: You Make It Awkward
I’d love to switch my brain to something else while I’m sitting here waiting for my food.
But all I can hear is the nervous clutter of teaspoons against coffee cups, interrupted by the occasional “order up” shout to the kitchen and the howling of the coffee machine steamer.
I can’t un-hear the conversation of the people next to me. Apparently she’s annoyed at her boss, so she’s told her friend five times.
And the kid on the table across from me is smearing yogurt through his hair and squealing every time his parents try to converse for more than 2.5 seconds.
I guess, in a way, it’s distracted me from the kitchen noise. But I can’t quite say I’m in the positive, enthusiastic mood I was when I first walked in.
I wish you’d just put on some tunes. #serenitynow
#6: You Don't Put In The Effort
And while we’re talking (in my head) would it kill you to do the little things that mean so much to me?
Wipe down the table, take that empty plate away, sit down for a chat when it’s quiet, notice I’m freezing and turn the heater on?
I’m a fully functioning adult and I’ll take care of myself when I’m in my own house, but when I’m in your premises, I’m your guest. It’d be nice to be treated as such.
A complimentary sliver of cake on my birthday, the occasional coffee upsize just because, or bringing me a sample to taste test a new dish you’re making – these things mean the world to me.
As a loyal customer, I love when you care what I think. I love it when my opinion matters to you. And it doesn’t have to be in big ways.
You’re my knight in shining armour when you fix my wobbly table, top up my water glass or remember my name.
Don’t forget that I can make my own meals and drinks at home – when I come to you, I’m hoping to exchange my money for more than just heated ingredients.
I want to build a relationship with you as my favourite destination, my trustworthy caffeine supplier, my go-to meeting place and my joyous opportunity for human connection.
Some days, you’re the only opportunity for in-person interaction I have.
#7: You Don't Love Them Like They Love You
Ok, it’s definitely true that some days I just come to you for a cuppa, nothing more.
But sometimes, I come to you for small-time solace. I don’t expect anything, but I appreciate everything you send my way.
You have no idea what impact you have on me.
Some days I come to visit you because I’m lonely. And sometimes it’s because I’m fighting with my partner and we can’t seem to get anything right.
Other times it’s ’cause I don’t treat myself to nice things often enough and I wish I was kinder to myself and I just need twenty minutes alone without my family screaming dramas at me.
I don’t need you to know what’s going on for me, but I do want you to understand that it’s meaningful for me to have a local place I can feel welcome, known, enjoyed and looked after.
It means the world to me to have someone smile at me, ask me about my garden, recommend a book, serve me delightful food, crack a joke and thank me for my visit.
I’m sorry. It’s not me, it’s you. But I’m done trying.
If this is what caring for customers looks like to you, well…
These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do.
Show You Care and Your Business Wins
Count your lucky stars if you get this many chances.
Better still, heed the lessons. Learn how to court your customers and win their affections with more than ‘good enough’ service. Aim for exceptional customer service.
There’s always another business around the corner eager to snap up your broken-hearted patrons. Don’t give them a reason to stray.
Caring for customers looks like paying attention to them, making them feel appreciated, and meeting their expectations.
Show your customers how much you care about them, and you’ll be rewarded with their loyal patronage.
All the best.
HI, I'm SARAH
I’m here to help you work smarter, not harder. I teach passionate business owners how to charge premium prices, attract the best customers, save time and make money with ease.