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Top 5 Reasons Customers Don’t Return


Whatever you sell, whether it’s a product or a service, your customers expect it to do what it’s supposed to. If you’re selling a car, the car should work. If you are selling a service, the result must meet expectations. It’s table stakes.

So let’s assume that whatever your customers buy from you will meet their expectations. However, that’s not always the reason the customer buys from you in the first place, let alone come back to buy more. It’s the customer experience that drives this.

In our 2022 Achieving Customer Amazement study, more than 1,000 US consumers were asked, “How likely would you be to change companies or leave a brand after having one of the following poor customer service experiences? They were asked to rate several reasons using a scale ranging from “unlikely” to “very likely”. Here are the top five reasons customers would leave:

1. Rudeness or apathy of a company or brand employee — It was the number one reason, with 75%. What’s interesting is that in the late 1970s, a study was commissioned by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, and the main reason customers left (over 70%) was the same . It’s hard to believe the numbers haven’t changed in 40 years, but it continues to be the number one reason customers don’t return.

2. Inconsistent information — There is no excuse for inconsistent information. Clearly, this is very frustrating for customers, with 72% saying it would make them find another place to do business. Have you ever called a company’s customer support number with a question and didn’t like the answer? If you really thought the answer was incorrect, you may have called back to ask someone else the same question, hoping for a different answer. And it’s amazing how many times you get a different answer.

3. Inability to connect with someone from customer support — Self-service or digital assistance is becoming increasingly popular. Customers learn that it’s often faster and easier to visit a website, read frequently asked questions, or interact with an AI-powered chatbot. However, there are times when you want to talk to a human. It should be an easy and seamless transition, but some companies hide behind a wall of digital support and make it difficult for a customer to connect with a live agent. Additionally, some companies bury their customer support number on their website, making it difficult, if not impossible, to find. This third reason customers leave stands at 71%, just four percentage points from reason #1.

4. A poor customer service experience — I think it would be at the top of the list, but at 68%, it takes fourth place. A bad customer service experience is exactly that. It’s just bad. But survey participants considered dealing with a rude or apathetic employee to be worse than an overall bad experience. My interpretation is that you might get a second chance after an overall bad experience. However, if customers are treated with disrespect (rudeness and apathy), you are more than likely not to see them again.

5. Inconsistent experience — You cannot be excellent one day, less excellent the next day, average another day, etc. Inconsistency erodes trust. Fifty-nine percent of the customers we surveyed would walk away if they didn’t know what to expect. Customers want a consistent and predictable experience. This gives them the assurance that they know what to expect every time they do business with you.

Looking at this list, you might think, “I knew it. Of course you did. You are a customer. You don’t want to deal with rude or apathetic employees. It bothers you to get inconsistent information, and it’s upsetting when you want to speak with someone from a company but can’t. You get frustrated when you have a bad customer service experience. And you are irritated by an inconsistent experience. Who wouldn’t?