The impact of customer disengagement on your business
As we have progressed into the digital age, the potential avenues of interaction between a company and a customer have increased. Nowadays, customers count social media, live chats, email, and interactive bots as potential touchpoints alongside face-to-face interactions.
There are now multiple ways for a customer to reach out to a company and vice-versa. Yet, some customers, particularly the most vulnerable, can disengage. What are the reasons for this, and what are the implications for your business?
Why do customers disengage?
Customers can disengage because they feel that they simply can’t trust companies, particularly those related to financial management.
Many customers – those facing problem debt or financial mismanagement for various reasons – feel that companies take advantage of their situation. They disengage and remain unaware of the support offered by charities and the companies to whom they owe money.
According to a survey from Hubspot, 81% of those who took part trust their friends and family’s advice over advice from a business. 65% do not trust company press releases, and 69% do not trust their advertisements.
Trust has eroded over time as there is a prevailing opinion that businesses place profit over people. There is also an oversaturation of advertisements and company-related collateral for customers to consume. This results in overexposure as customers simply tune all that out as noise.
Add more recent concerns over how companies use customer data and the potential reasons for a customer to disengage start to stack up.
These concerns pose a problem for businesses that want to communicate meaningfully with their customers.
The hard truth is that many customers out there, including the most vulnerable in need of assistance, those who suffer from financial hardship or stress, simply don’t want to hear from your company.
Why? Because they assume that the business can’t have their best interests at heart. When profits are at stake, they believe that those profits will always take precedence over their wellbeing.
What does this mean for your business?
When there is no communication, there is no opportunity to build an emotional connection with the customer – something incrementally cultivated or diminished over time with each interaction.
Customer disengagement is bad for both your business and the customer themselves.
Any material or messages you want to share, including authentic, beneficial advice and guidance, is met with silence as the customer is not willing to ‘come to the table’ since they are not receptive.
This means the vulnerable customer is missing out on potentially helpful services.
It’s bad for your business because you have no outlet through which you build a long-lasting relationship with the customer. You have no opportunity to build a relationship based on trust, a shared understanding, and a safe environment for sensitive disclosures.
What can you do about it?
For any company, vulnerable customer disengagement is a challenging obstacle to overcome. How can you hope to build trust in your services if you can’t engage in an opening conversation?
Essentially, there needs to be a cultural shift in business mentality.
You need to frame any dialogue with customers as support for them instead of a remedy for diminished profits.
Businesses must see potential customers as more than just numbers and data points; they need to see beyond their label as the customer to view them as a human and an integral part of the business.
This is a fundamental point – your customers are your greatest asset. Taking care of them for the sake of genuinely helping them will result in better relationships over time, creating advocates for your business.
This approach should apply to all customers, not just the most vulnerable.
By cultivating a customer service culture based on empathy, you develop a positive feedback loop with your customers – an immensely powerful concept for business growth.
Highly engaged customers buy more, promote more, and demonstrate more loyalty, enabling long-term success and growth. Disengaged customers can, at worst, harm your business as they opt for a competitor and share their negative experiences with others.
Therefore, customer support based on empathetic outreach, underlined by the principle that people are more important than profits, will go a long way toward combatting vulnerable customer disengagement.
What does empathetic outreach look like?
Empathetic outreach means providing genuine customer care that is people-first. It means well-trained customer support providers whose priority is to find solutions that work for the customer. The ultimate aim is to protect their wellbeing. It means:
- Listening to customer circumstances to build understanding
- Sharing possible solutions through discussion
- Keeping conversations confidential
- Pointing toward external help elsewhere for vulnerable customers
Empathetic outreach looks to break that negative feedback loop of low engagement and low awareness of support, especially among vulnerable customers.
It’s based on the fundamental belief that this results in a win-win relationship as customers get the support they need while businesses reap benefits from renewed customer engagement.
To hear more about customer engagement and the role that brands can play in customer well-being, focusing on those most vulnerable facing issues with problem debt, read our broader report here.
|About the author
Ryan Rayner is located in Sydney and leads our Australian growth and development team.