5 frightening things providers don’t want to hear from customers

A witches’ brew of nightmare scenarios

Eye of newt, and toe of frog. Wool of bat, and tongue of dog and all that. Goblins and other ghoulish creature will be out and about this Halloween but for providers there are far more scary things that give them the creeps – all year round.

Here are five things customers say that get many channel players jumpy.

1. ”I’m hearing a lot about your competitor lately”
This one almost sounds like the chain that the ghost of Jacob Marley drags around. You just know something horrible is going to pop out soon.

If you’re competitor is generating a lot of positive buzz, that can’t be good for you. This might also mean that there’s a danger you might be losing your customer soon.

Take this as an opportunity to listen to what your customers have to say. Analyze why your competitor is getting positive comments in the press, social media, site recommendations and blog posts. Then, you can also take a good look at what you have to offer your clients. Ask them and yourself what could be done to improve your product line or services and then explore ways to get your customers spreading the good word about your company


2. ”We’ll have to cancel this order”
When customers call to cancel an order or ask for an extension of billing terms, many operators feel the hairs on their backs rise. The dreaded news could be a just a sign of some minor changes in the customer’s operation or it could mean a cash flow problem.

The only way to deal with this is to make sure your business generation efforts are well-oiled. Many experts recommend building a database of customers at or above a certain spending level. Regularly check which of these customers you haven’t seen or contacted in a long while. When a certain amount of time has passed since their last order, contact your customer with a special offer.


3. “We’re coming out with a request for quotes”
The nightmare scenario is that this could be your customer’s way of telling you that they don’t want to do business with you anymore.

Very often an RFQ disregards the relationships that have been developed between provider and customer. It could mean that you’ll lose your customer’s business or will be able to hang onto it under less favourable terms.

If you’re looking for a bright side, it could mean you’re saying goodbye to a customer you don’t need. Read up on why getting rid of your customer could be a good thing.

Equally unnerving is learning that your customer is looking for a backup supplier. This could mean that your client thinks you’re not big enough to provide their needs.

For this scenario, you should find out what your customer’s concerns are about and find out how you can fix the situation.

4. “We have a new purchasing director”
This sort of news is enough to suck the life out of many providers. After all that effort building a good working business relationship, you’re back to zero. A new purchasing boss could already have another vendor in mind.

That person could also be out to make a mark in the organization by roping a better deal from your competitor.

Immediately put a stake at the heart of the problem. Get up and go meet this person and start building a new relationship.

5. Rising complaints or silence
Increasing levels of complaints could signal that you’re about to lose customers, especially if you’re dealing with negative social media reviews that also mention customers leaving you for your competition.

You can proactively handle this by monitoring what customers are saying about your company and product in social media, forums and reviews. Take an honest audit of your offerings and how you deal with clients and improve or alter what needs to be changed.

If you’re not hearing anything from your customers, remember that silence can also be a bad thing. Some surveys show that the average business hears from four per cent of its discontented customers.

Sometimes kids going trick or treating don’t even bother knocking at certain doors – they know from experience they’re not going to get what they want from that house. It’s the same with customers. Many people are not going to bother to complain, they’re very busy and would rather just move on – very likely to another customer.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Nestor Arellano
Nestor Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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