We’re Losing Customers, Even When We Don’t Talk About It

Guest Blogger title

By: Jeannie Walters

January 31, 2017

Customer Feedback
journey analytics
Clarabridge Analytics
Customer Experience
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Customer Journey Mapping

CEO and Founder of 360Connext

In any customer journey mapping initiative, there’s likely to be some debate over how to define the different phases a customer goes through in their journey. You might never find a customer journey map missing the buying phase, but there is one critical area missing far too often—when you are losing customers.

How (and why) does your customer leave you?

Your customer journey map can be a unique tool for understanding this phase of the journey. Because even if you don’t like to think about it, customers are walking out your door almost every day. And believe it or not, that can be OK. But it’s important to have the insight to recognize these moments for what they are – opportunities to create better service experiences for the future.

The exit phase is not just one stop on the journey.

When mapping out the phases of any journey, remember the exit door is always just a step away throughout the process.

They don’t just leave you when they decide not to renew or after outgrowing your product. They leave before they even become a customer. They head over to your competition when the going gets rough in the onboarding phase. They have the right to leave you emotionally at any point, even when they are locked into a contract. Don’t ever think they are with you long-term simply because they haven’t explicitly said otherwise.

Where are the exits?

By looking at your journey maps, analytics and feedback metrics with a fresh eye towards understanding why customers leave you and not just why they stay, you’ll see patterns and specific places in the journey that seem to have a bigger exit door than others.

For example, a company selling software-as-a-service noticed how their customers were less likely to renew after two years of using the product. Instead of asking “why are we losing customers?” they kept asking “what can we do to make them stay?” Promotions, offers and extra time on the contract were all used to try to keep customers. But after asking the question with an eye towards “why are they leaving us?” the activity shifted. Soon it became apparent customers had been scaling the product beyond its capacity – trying to bolt on other features and re-purpose them for different uses. A-ha!

When it became too much DIY for the CTO, they found other options for those needs. By understanding this, the product developers quickly added features to integrate with various software platforms their customers used. It was a quick fix to help customers avoid the exit door for a little while longer. Eventually, the product scaled in the way necessary to create long-term relationships.

Let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen.

It’s amazing how quickly we forget about the prospects who didn’t eventually say yes. We chalk it up to a “numbers game” and don’t do much more than dump these people back into our trickle marketing campaigns – as if they never had a relationship with us!

Building healthy relationships with customers takes investment from both us and them. Build on it by planning for the path customers take once they exit – regardless of which phase of the journey. Have a plan and a system to reach out to long-term customers and see if there is feedback. Reach out to regular customers on a regular basis and ask the tough questions like “have you ever been tempted to leave us?” or “what competitors have appealed to you?” This information can be the equivalent of sales and retention gold! Don’t be afraid.

Customers will leave you.

There has never been an organization with exactly 100% retention and loyalty and there never will be. Losing customers is part of the journey. Embrace it to learn as much as you can about the very customers you are trying to keep.


Jeannie Walters has spent nearly 20 years evaluating and improving customer experiences. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) the Chicagoland Ambassador and a CX Expert Panel member for the Customer Experience Professionals Association, a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, and a TEDx speaker.

She’s passionate about making the everyday interactions we all have as customers better and writes, speaks, studies and trains on customer experience issues around the world. She’s worked with Verizon Wireless, Allstate, Bath and Body Works, Orangetheory Fitness, Citrix and many others. Her mission is “To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.” Follow Jeannie at http://360connext.com or on Twitter @jeanniecw

Clarabridge can help you understand your customers so you’re not losing customers. See your customer feedback data live, today.