Trees & Some Carpet: A Customer Retention Blunder
I recently made the decision to move our office to a new location because I felt our current office landlord didn't hear me when I expressed my needs as a customer.
Throughout this process, I have considered how the way we respond to our customer complaints and suggestions affects our customer churn.
SITUATION 1: IGNORING CUSTOMER NEEDS
Over the last five years, I have asked the office landlord no less than 10 times to replace the hideous, old green carpet in the office building entryway. I felt it reflected poorly on our company and I wanted to provide a better customer experience. While the landlord always said he would replace it soon. He didn't.
SITUATION 2: FOCUSING ON THE WRONG CUSTOMERS
More recently, as I came into work, I saw that almost all the beautiful trees in front of our building had big orange X's on them. I knew this meant they were marked to be cut down. I was disappointed to see this because one of the reasons we had picked this building for our office was the beautiful trees that surrounded it.
I begged the building owner not to cut down the mature trees, sharing with him that the trees were one of the main selling points for our company. However, he didn't care what I said. He was under the impression that people couldn't see the building from the road and that it was affecting his ability to lease office spaces.
So instead of listening to us, his largest building tenant, he chopped the trees down in hopes of bringing in additional tenants. So far, no additional tenants have come.
CUSTOMER CHURN: THE COST OF UNRESPONSIVENESS
While trying to increase the number of tenants in his office building, he has successfully lost one—us.
Unfortunately, our company is not the only one to leave the office building. A large tenant moved out last year and the building's last occupant is potentially leaving this fall.
While it's unlikely the other tenants' reasons are the same, it's plausible that they have not felt heard either when providing feedback.
Since announcing to the landlord that our company would be moving, the carpet has been replaced. Unfortunately, it's too late to save us as a tenant. We've already had enough of not being heard.
Had they spent a little money on retention, they would have saved in the long run. Acquisition is much more costly.
Whether you have a formal customer feedback process in place or you just want to informally talk to your customers, take the time to listen to them. They will tell you how to make them happy. That will, in turn, help you keep your current customers and attract other customers that likely have the same needs.