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Why Satisfied Customers Still Defect

In a subscriber-only training seminar, “Getting Serious About Sales Effectiveness,” an attendee posed an interesting question about customer defection…

“Why would a B2B customer defect if they are saying they’re satisfied?”

This is a great question because too many business people believe that the concept of “customer satisfaction” and the concept of retaining and growing wallet-share are directly linked. And they are—just not in the way everyone thinks.

You see, everyone knows that dissatisfied customers are at-risk for defection, right? But all-too-often, people also believe the inverse—that satisfied customers are NOT at-risk for defection.

While the former is certainly true, the latter is simply a delusion. You can meet a customer’s expectations all day long and still lose their business when they have other expectations, or when someone else does an even better job of meeting their expectations.

In a B2B environment, a satisfied customer may defect when they think you don’t have the products they need. You may actually have what they need, or can get it, but they’re just not aware of that fact and it’s just easier to go somewhere else.

They’ll defect when somebody offers them even better service or terms than they’re getting from you. Your service and terms may be perfectly “satisfactory”—they meet expectations—but this other company is just offering something even better.

There could be procurement rules that require splitting volumes and purchases amongst multiple suppliers to mitigate risk.

And, there are situations where customers won’t want to vocalize or signal their intentions—for fear that if you suspect they’re engaging with other suppliers that it will somehow impact their preferred status, or their current supply and pricing agreements with you.

The point is, there are lots of reasons why customers will say one thing and do another. But their wallet—their purchasing behavior—always tells the truth.

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