Sharp-eyed Worldwide Salon Marketing member David Wood of Elan Men’s Hair in Brisbane is another who can thank his immersion in ‘our’ way of salon marketing for honing his B.S. Antenna to a state of high alert.

David sent me an article written by a purported ‘expert’ on customer retention that makes my eyes water.

Under the heading “Don’t ask customers why they left you!”,  the article argues, correctly, that customers leave for three main reasons:

* Drawn: They are drawn away to a supplier that offers them substantially more of what they value (e.g. service, benefits, savings, etc.).
* Drift: They drift away to a similar supplier who offers them marginally more. Most often this occurs at points of change in their own life (e.g. moving job/house/site, having children, etc.).
* Driven: In the absence of a strong engagement, they become disenchanted over time and then a particular incident (trigger) pushes them to change suppliers.

But then the author falls in a hole, with the scholarly opinion that “…instead of asking them why they left you, try the following strategies to reduce customer defections:

1. Conduct value research

* Use analysis of relevant online discussion forums, traditional focus groups and other tools to identify what customers actually value from their relationship with you. Then use these insights to drive value into your customer relationships.

2. Leverage your customer data

* Use customer complaints data to prioritise and address those things that annoy customers (and start collecting it immediately if you don’t already!)
* Statistically analyse customer transactional behaviour to identify other change triggers (positive and negative).

Online discussion forums? Focus groups???

Oh, yawn. In other words, tip-toe around, do anything except send ‘em a letter, in an envelope, with a stamp on it, asking them to come back and giving them a bloody good reason (offer) to do so.

It’s classic avoidance strategy, padded with big words and fancy phrases, to give business owners comfort for not doing what it takes to get the damn customers back.

If you want to do ‘research’, here’s my contention: get the customers back first, then find out why they left in the first place. If they’re standing right in front of you, having eagerly responded to your ‘come back’ offer, that’s a pretty good place to start your ‘focus group’. Particularly after they’ve just been blown away by a ‘wow’ experience.

“C’mon Shirley, we haven’t seen you for three months. What happened?”

Sometimes, ‘experts’ just love to over-think things. Thankfully, our Members know the value of a well-crafted ‘Raise the Dead’ series of letters they can simply download from the Membership area. Many are getting a 30% response rate, or better, sending these letters to their ‘missing in action’ clients.

Like, for example, Hannah McEnteggart of Oasis Health & Beauty Spa in Great Missendon, UK: