How To Write Your Way Out of Losing Customers
7 essential communication fixes for your business
Let’s start with a warning.
Everything your clients know about your integrity comes from you.
Your words hold the secret to effective branding and marketing. Because by sending the right messages at the right time, you make your customers feel they’re in safe hands.
Should be simple, right?
After all, you send messages all the time:
- The pages on your website
- Email sequences and download links
- Replies to enquiries
- Social media posts
- Product descriptions…
But here’s the thing to bear in mind if your business is losing customers.
Every single thing you write has the power to attract, bore, or scare. And sometimes, you bore or scare customers without realising.
So, let’s identify, and fix, the seven common ways that your copy is working against you.
1. Fear of Losing Customers Makes You Ignore Those You Already Have
You gotta keep hustling for clients, right?
Customer churn is a reality, and that pot needs filling.
You can’t be wasting time answering those “newsy” emails from old customers. They’re done with your service, right? You can’t risk losing out on new customers, right?
So you avoid eye-contact with those emails for as long as you can. Then, the guilt gets to be too much, and with a click of the tongue, you tap away and hit the send button.
The poor client opens their email to this:
Or at least, this is what the client has understood if you didn’t write with the same interest as when you were working together.
Why does this matter?
Well, according to research, 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
This 20% are people who:
- Believe in your product/service and brand.
- Receive your new products and services with enthusiastic interest.
- Keep you innovating, developing, and progressing.
- Know you and don’t want to start the hunt for a new supplier.
They’re your chief advocates.
When a client emails you with news, it shows your brand personality has touched them on a personal level. This is exactly what you want.
Indifference is one of the main reasons customers leave one company and go to another. In fact, a whopping 68% of clients will leave you if they think you’re not interested in them.
Protect yourself by building relationships into your business strategy.
Use the “You-Me-Us” framework to write an effective response in just three paragraphs, using your natural tone, warmth, and style.
Introducing the “You-Me-Us” framework
This three-paragraph framework embraces customer emails as a marketing opportunity and uses them to strengthen your relationship.
Paragraph 1: Acknowledge their news in a conversational brand-appropriate tone. This tells them you’ve read their email fully.
Paragraph 2: Mention the latest development/product in your business and weave in some benefits, preferably related to a point they’ve mentioned in their email. Keep it to one paragraph, otherwise, it becomes an overt sales pitch.
Paragraph 3: Turn your attention back to your client by making a reference to a single interesting point from their email, and then end with an invitation for them to contact you or go to your website for more information about whatever you mentioned in point two.
Master these three paragraphs and you’ll never fear those newsy emails again.
You’ve nurtured the client relationship and created a sales opportunity at the same time.
2. You’re Losing in Business by Thinking Everyone on Facebook is Your Friend
Yes, you’re supposed to let your personality show on social media.
But not by forgetting that everything you write is a sales pitch — even when you’re not directly selling something.
By insulting a follower who took offence about her dog napping on top of her stock, G. became that weird shopkeeper who stands in a doorway waving a rolling-pin, hurling abuse at passers-by.
Even the people who didn’t comment on the post have formed an impression of what G.’s brand stands for now.
The time-honoured way to deal with a mistake
Imagine a shopkeeper belches loudly in your face. Will you feel better if the shopkeeper:
- Pulls his half-eaten lunch from his pocket and starts slapping you around the head with it?
- Owns the mistake and gives a genuine apology?
People like people who apologise when they’ve made a mistake.
Keep it short, and keep it simple. Keep your resentment out of it because making things right is good customer service. Besides, angry words live forever online, and people always find them.
If you have a business link in your bio, everything you post reflects on your business integrity and positions your brand.
3. Your Broken Website is a Reason Customers Leave
People come to your site with certain expectations. They expect:
- Your website has current, up-to-date information
- The links all work
- They can easily find what they need
They’re looking to sense if they can trust you or not.
Placeholder text, dead links, and “Coming Soon” pages create the impression that you’re not taking your business seriously and perhaps won’t deliver.
If your website stats show that you’re getting traffic to your site but people aren’t staying or calling, check if your business is losing customers from the website experience they’re getting.
Spring-clean at least once a year
Have a site audit now, and then again every year, to make sure your site works as expected:
- Switch off the visibility for pages that don’t have content and shouldn’t be live.
- Use automated tools to check for dead links.
- Update information that’s no longer appropriate, or add a link taking pop-up to a newer page.
- Check that email auto-responders and funnels are still relevant.
- Verify all your downloads works — brochures, subscription incentive, PDFs, and etc.
Bonus tip: Don’t let your web designer use placeholder dummy text when designing your site.
Real content should always lead the design because while people will forgive a terrible design, they won’t forgive bad content.
4. When Live Chat Puts You at Risk of Losing Customers
Sometimes, you trip at the last hurdle.
Your compelling copy has inspired people to get in touch. They love that you’ve got Live Chat and the button is green, inviting them to ask their questions.
So they do.
And they wait for a reply.
And wait. And wait. And wait.
Finally, they stop waiting and go to your competitor instead (unsubscribing from your list as they go).
Technology failures happen to the best of us, which is why it’s really important to have contingency plans in place. Not just before a major launch, but every day.
Test the customer experience
You’ve done really well in producing a product people want. Now, you want to make sure your delivery system works.
Important: Log out of your admin panel when you test your system. Admin has privileges that make you blind to what the customer’s really going through.
- How many people can your system support?
- What happens if there’s no customer service agent available to respond?
- Do you know your peak times for callers?
- If your live chat is integrated with a chatbot, are the questions logical and based on real-life scenarios?
- Is there a smooth transition between your chatbot and a real-live human if the customer needs to speak to someone?
- Do you have a clear alternative contact method listed?
- Have you tested on the most common browsers? On an iPhone? On an Android?
Automated systems are great when they work, but they can break relationships if they don’t come through.
5. Why Do Companies Lose Customers From Email? (Hint: It’s Not Your Writing)
Customers know you’re busy, but they also like to think they’re important to you.
This is why people who wait two full days (on purpose) before replying to emails are shooting themselves in the foot.
They believe they’re making themselves seem more attractive to the customer by giving the illusion that they’re in demand. In reality, the customer’s beginning to write them off.
Research shows that 43% of customers expect an email response within a day, and 44% of customers expect a response in four hours or less.
Expected response times on social media are even faster.
While you do need to protect yourself from tech overload, you also need systems in place that support customer expectations and reinforce the integrity of your brand.
Be a good communicator
- Set up an auto-responder letting people know you’ve received their query and when they can expect a response. People will be happy to wait once they know you’re working on it.
- If it’s going to take longer than you thought, send them an interim holding email.
- If you have an active social media presence, consider a social media management agency or freelancer to handle it on your behalf. You’ll need to find one that understands your brand voice and social objectives.
- Schedule email into a convenient break in your day. For example, if your energy is at a natural low just after lunch, you could use that time to check and respond to emails.
- Don’t use a “no-reply” return address. It’s frustrating for a client to reply to your email, only to have it bounce back as undeliverable. If you need to channel incoming emails through a central pipeline, include a signature on outgoing emails telling the client how to respond.
Bonus Tip: If you have a spam filter, know that it’s a booby trap and will suck in genuine messages from real prospective clients. Check your spam box regularly so you’re not losing customers just because you don’t know they’re there.
6. You’re Scaring Your Email Subscribers
Getting people to subscribe to your email list is a big deal. It’s your private members’ club where all the good stuff happens.
Stuff like that lovely new consultancy program you’re offering at a discounted price. It’s been six weeks now and the pre-written welcome sequence has finished… but so many people still haven’t purchased.
You get antsy and start deriding your audience, telling them they’ll be poor forever if they don’t book with you. Perhaps you’re copying an influencer who knows his audience so well that those emails work for him.
Your emails get more desperate for a sale…
People unsubscribe. Your business is losing customers.
Give people a reason to want a relationship with you
People signed up to you for the intrinsic value they saw in your service/product.
Give them more of what attracted you to them in the first place:
- Respect: Every email shouldn’t be a hard sell or a guilt-inducer. It gets tiring, and people wonder why they even signed up with you.
- Entertainment: Vary up your emails — have surveys, stories, anecdotes, and some of your best tips. Include a link to your product, but don’t make a big deal of it in every email.
- Connection: Look at your data and identify the email sequences that produce sign-ups of quality customers (i.e. people who don’t get buyer’s remorse and demand a refund the next morning).
- Understanding: Learn how to funnel your subscribers into more targeted lists depending on where they are in the buying cycle. Some people can be on your list for years before they’re ready to invest. Others are actively looking for a solution.
People don’t buy because you tell them they must. They buy because they see for themselves that they must.
7. What is a Lost Customer? (When None of Your 2000 Followers Ever Buys From You)
You’ve heard it before: it’s better to have a small, engaged group of followers than a huge one that largely ignores you.
Engaged followers follow you because they’re drawn to your message, and they have the potential of becoming customers. The others just feed your follower-count ego and make you forget that you’re a business with revenue-related goals.
If your followers don’t interact with you in a meaningful way, it’s likely you haven’t attracted customers at all, let alone any that you can lose (or keep).
Your time’s being wasted and what you need is a social media strategy. Treating your social feed like a business helps you target followers who want your service, rather than blindly building a follower count.
Your mini social media strategy overview
- Target your channels: Choose your social media channels (one to three maximum for your own sanity). Then, decide how long you want to spend on them per day — 30 minutes to an hour is good. Use a timer to manage yourself.
- Think business: If a random stranger can’t get a good sense of your business from your last six posts, then you’re not running a business account. Show your personality in a brand-appropriate way — promise yourself that you won’t fill your feed with breakfast shots, memes, jokes, or selfies.
- Show-up regularly: Different channels need different levels of engagement. Twitter works better if you post at least three times a day. Instagram and Facebook need less of your time. Spend a couple of hours each week creating appropriate photos and captions for the entire week.
- Write compelling copy: As a business, your content must provide value and present you as an authority. If you’re a nutritionist, don’t just post endless photos of serenity and green smoothies. Include recipes, case studies, and business-relevant information that makes people want to look out for your posts.
- Remember the “social”: Don’t sell in every post. Allow around five value-adding, community-building posts to every sales post. Keep your language conversational and friendly. Engage with people who comment.
- Remember to sell: Understand what you’re selling so you can target your message. A local gym won’t get members from across the world, but it could create a downloadable product or a subscription-based wellness program for monetisation. Alternatively, it could focus and optimise its messaging purely at a local level so it becomes the number one choice for people searching for gym and fitness information in that area.
Your social media presence needs to be planned so you don’t wander the social plains aimlessly, losing hope and surrendering to whatever new fad comes along.
You’ve Done it! You’ve Learnt How to Write Your Way to Reversing The Loss of Customers
If your business is losing customers, you’re now armed with seven ways to plug the holes:
- Let your past and present customers know you value them.
- Be respectful to your social followers when they call you out.
- Make sure your website gives people what they need.
- Check that your contact technology and automation works.
- Answer emails promptly.
- Build a deeper relationship with your email subscribers.
- Have a social media strategy for your business.
Implement these techniques, and you’ll see customer retention improve. You’ll also start to get more enquiries.