A downward slope may not be noticeable at first, and the realization that you’ve lost several customers may hit like a ton of bricks. When you take a look back up that slope, what do you see? There are several obvious reasons why you might be losing clientele, but sometimes you have to do a bit of digging before finding the (literal or figurative) culprit.
In a business that keeps a storefront, and especially with retail, it’s easy to see if employees’ work is rushed and sloppy. Displays may not be organized, clothes may not be folded, and product may be missing from the shelves – this would turn away just about anyone. In an office setting however, an employee’s sloppy work could be easier to hide. Unfinished work, hastily done reports, misfiled paperwork may never be discovered until you’re looking for it. When the work is reviewed or the file is missing, productivity and efficiency fall, and some very important people from outside the company could be kept waiting while you scramble to find out what went wrong.
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Sloppy work also tends to generate an obscene amount of grammatical errors, especially typos. As an editor, typos are one of my biggest pet peeves, and they should be one of yours as well. Grammar can be difficult, but the basics are not. Spell-check programs in email and word processing programs make typos easier to avoid, but be on the lookout for homophones. Spelling and grammar are particularly important in correspondence with people from other companies, especially when a contract is on the line.
In trying to finalize the details of a contract or big deal, returning phone calls promptly is a must. Are all the phones in your office flashing to notify that they have messages? Now may be a good time for a friendly reminder to your employees to check for messages every day. Clients don’t want to be kept waiting, and neither do prospective advertisers, sponsors, etc. And customers calling for information about a product from a store will have no problem hanging up and finding a similar product elsewhere.
Has your company recently decided to hire a slew of new employees, and no one knows who is in charge of training? Are you promoting several major new products within the same timeframe? Have you changed both the look and taste of your best selling drink? You may want to ease on the breaks. Changing too much too fast can have an adverse effect on your company’s success. Innovation is the name of the game nowadays, but too much innovation can leave your customers dizzy with the newness and the options you are promoting.
The opposite can also be true – that best-selling drink that’s been around for a while? The can could use some sprucing up design-wise... maybe it a new marketing campaign? Remaining stagnant for long periods of time because the product “sells itself” can eventually have an adverse effect on profits.
Perhaps the most important, and often overlooked, procedure a company should have is flexibility. Standing your ground on your core values is absolutely necessary, but what about the peripheral issues? Offering a no-return policy, no matter the circumstances, may not garner many fans, especially if something goes wrong with the product. Carefully consider that policies you have in place, and make sure they are employee and customer friendly.
Running a business or being a manager for a business means constantly walking a fine line. If you are losing customers, it may not just be your product or service, but the behind-the-scenes work. Many of these things are quick to remedy, some will take some work. It will be worth it though if you can win back those customers.