A problematic and persistent mindset is that existing customers can be taken for granted – that they will continue to purchase the same brand over and over, as if it were an ingrained habit, without any other action on the part of the seller. In spite of the fact that firms continue to lose customers, this sense of entitlement to future sales has been unshakable.
This problem of entitlement is often evident much earlier in the process. A common complaint among salesmen is that prospects “slip off the hook” during the closing process. But the core problem is that the salesman believes that his job is completed once a prospect has made any sign that he intends to purchase – so the salesman wanders off, assuming that other people will guide the prospect to follow through on this commitment, however weak it may have been, without any additional encouragement.
From the perspective of the customer (or prospect), many feel that they have been left adrift. Even if they are earnestly interested in engaging with the brand, they are left not quite knowing how to act on it: how to make payment, how to take delivery of the goods, how to use the goods once they have been delivered. The easiest way to escape uncertainty is for them to back out of the deal – or if they have singed a contract and are trapped, they will almost certainly be dissatisfied with the outcome and will seek another provider.
Reassurance is the most forgotten step in the sales process and in customer retention, and a significant cause of customer churn. The general notion is that buyer’s remorse “just happens” – but given that the salesman was critical in helping the buyer decide to buy, he is also culpable when they are not happy with what they bought.
Reassurance is merely a matter of touching base with the client after the sale was made to ensure they are getting the benefit they expected from the product they just purchased. Most salesmen fear hearing that the customer is dissatisfied – but if they did a thorough job of understanding the customer’s needs and matching the product, this should not happen.
Reassurance is necessary during the next steps of the present purchase, to make sure that the client keeps their commitment to you and that your firm keeps its commitment to him. It is also critical to getting repeat business, because any failure (regardless of whose “fault” it was) leads to dissatisfaction and poisons your reputation with the customer – they will not be back to buy again, and may encourage others to avoid you as well.
To put a positive spin on it: a prospect who is reassured and informed through the buying process will be far more likely to complete the purchase, and the customer who is supported and reassured during the period of ownership is far more likely to repurchase as well as to recommend. But this is not something to which brands are entitled or should take for granted.