Anyone who is running a small business, 80% of businesses in the United States, must take care of their customers to keep their business alive. No client is guaranteed to stay with you forever. In fact, most will leave. Some of their reasons for leaving will be out of your control, others you can influence.

3 Top Reasons Customers Leave That You Probably CANNOT Influence

  1. They move and you are a local business
  2. Their friend, brother, neighbor, etc. is now your competition
  3. They no longer have a need for your service or product

Continual marketing is essential to bring in new leads from the top of the sales funnel to replace customers who do not return. That is the subject of another blog

Today I want to address the 3 of the top reasons your customer leaves that YOU CAN influence

  1. You, your team, your product, did them wrong
  2. Someone else gave them a lower price
  3. They don’t think they matter to you

Let’s start with #1.

The Unhappy Customer

We have all heard the phrase “the customer is always right”.  This slogan originated in a London department store in the early 1900’s to convince customers they were receiving the best value for their money.

Is this still true in today’s culture and economic environment?


The customer is always right. If they have not received what they expected from you then they are correct. So how should you handle that? 

Start at the beginning. What did they expect from your company? How did you position your customer? Positioning happens in marketing, packaging, agreements, team behavior etc. Is who you are and what you offer clearly shown?

How clearly defined are your culture, values, vision and mission for your business?  Does your team know and live these same values? Do you? Does your prospective client? 

If you are trying to be all things to all people you are setting yourself up for trouble, and your clients up for disappointment.

Target has a good business. Most of us who shop there regularly know what we can expect from their stores and their teams. If someone enters the store that usually shops at Nordstroms or Niemen Marcus, is it possible they will be a bit disappointed in the quality and the service at Target?  In that case an unhappy customer may be correct, that does not make Target or the team wrong. It means market to your ideal customer. The difference is in the expectations. What does your customer expect when they work with you and did they receive it?


Reality is that today’s customer often expects more than what they pay for.  They often believe every store, vendor, contractor they work with should be happy to have their business.  They are not wrong. It is up to you as the business owner to be sure you are working with the right clients for you. The long-term success of your business depends on it.

Trying to please everyone can have a negatively impact

  1. Your team
  2. Your ideal clients
  3. Your bottom line

How to handle the customer who received what they requested, paid for, and were promised and are still complaining:

  1.  Agree with them that they did not receive what they THINK they should have
    1. I can see/ hear that you are unhappy, unsatisfied, frustrated
  2. Remind them that they received what the original agreement was for
    1. Per our agreement, it seems you have received everything as agreed upon. 
  3. Sometimes you cannot make an unhappy customer happy. When there is no making them happy, keep it short and sweet.
    1. Consider the response from Southwest Airlines in their reply to a nagging, complaining, frequent flyer “We Will Miss You”. 

Let your competitors have you difficult customers, they may be the ideal customers for that business, and if not well at least you are no longer dealing with them.

Take care of your ideal customers, deliver everything you promise, don’t over promise, communicate consistently.

Your customers matter, and a happy team will take very good care of them.

Take better care of your team. Support them, train them, share wins and complaints with them.  And when a customer cannot be made happy, instead of refunding or beating up the team, let the customer know.  “We Will Miss You”