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The top 5 reasons why customers will stop doing business with you in the next 5 years.

In this day and age as a business you either disrupt or will be disrupted. If your business does not follow the below requirements, chances are very high your customers will walk away from you within the next 5 years.

1. Poor accessibility: Ever tried to call a bank or telecom company to fix an issue you are experiencing as a consumer? I said ´call´ on purpose because the call for action through their websites can be so non-transparent you prefer to call someone live.

Press one for loans, press two for bank transfers, press three for… ejection seat as despair steadily starts to consume you! Sadly enough what has happened in those big companies is that the efficiency of having automated response systems is at the expense of the customer. Not good. How easy is it for customers to get access to your business? Do you put up the robot wall, or can your customers talk to real human beings? Human beings are the soul of your company, not some high tech robot system. I had to call a bank recently to change a phone number (this was not possible to do online) and the only reason I managed to talk to a person directly was to call the mortgage department. The implicit message from the bank is yes you can talk directly to us if you want to buy something but if you have a complaint good luck talking to our machines!

Ever been to a Turkish bazar in Istanbul? Sounds, smells, loud colors are all screaming for your attention. This is the virtual marketplace we live in. How attractive is your market stand? Are you on the main road of the bazar or hidden away behind bigger market stands? Are clients window shopping or truly buying? Can they easily see and recognize your products at display? If they compare (and they do) why would they buy from you? Not providing easy access for your customers will chase them away sooner rather than later.

2. Lack of Engagement: Live and breathe ´client first´ in every single thing you do. If clients don´t know your product, let them try it. First time I saw an entire cured pig´s leg in Spain I was nowhere near convinced this was considered a delicatessen. And it definitely is, so I found out. Because they let me try it. What is your cured pig´s leg? How can you start familiarising your audience with it? Show your stuff. Let customers try before they buy. Wait a bit before you put up the credit card wall immediately. If customers do not feel engaged they will walk away from you sooner rather than later.

3. No customisation: Much to my dismay the same day at the Spanish market I saw they sold the actual paws of the chicken for consumption! Where I come from we prefer chicken breasts (thank you very much). Both tastes are equally valid. There is no accounting for taste. But do account to personalise your product or service for the right type of customer. To what extent do you customise your products and services, and communication around it, to the different tastes of your target audiences? If customers perceive they get a one size fits all service or product, they will walk away from you sooner rather than later.

4. Lousy connection: This is one of the most important ones I find. The market example again (the insights I had that day!). I accidentally picked the wrong number lining up to buy cheese at the market stand where they sold both fruit and cheese. When it was my turn (so I thought) they told me I picked the wrong number (for the fruit section, not the cheese section) so instead of helping me they told me I had to pick a number for the cheese section and get back in queue again. Not exactly a great customer experience. Connecting is about constantly adding a layer of value for your client with everything you do. As a consumer I unfortunately face way too many ´the computer says no´ examples. Are your client relationship management processes company driven or client driven? If it´s still company driven you can wait for the next Airbnb type Uber to disrupt your business. The client has the power. He does not want to guess and get frustrated by your processes (see the point I made about accessibility). The client does not want to talk to a computer (in case it says no, then what do you do?) but to a real human being, or pick another number in the example I just gave. Also, why does it seem that acknowledging a client´s frustration equals admitting guilt for so many customer support agents? They are most of the time totally separate. Not acknowledging the emotion first decreases speed in resolving the issue and increases cost. Now who wants that? Is your customer facing part of your business solely company and computer driven or can clients connect with real human beings in driving the(ir) client relationship process? If customers do not feel a connection with the way you run your business, they will walk away from you sooner rather than later.

5. Non-collaboration: If two people exchange one orange for another each person still has one orange. However, if those same two people exchange one idea for another, both persons will have two ideas each. This is the essence of true collaboration, based on the belief of abundance not scarcity. The hip coffeebar at the market I was shopping at, sold nice homemade pastries from their neighbor market stand. The pie can become bigger (and more tasty even), not necessarily smaller. We depend on and need each other more than anything else although the divisiveness wave that is hitting us now may indicate the opposite. If customers perceive doing business with you is non-collaborative, they will walk away from you sooner rather than later.

So. What does your virtual market stand look like? How attractive is your display? How many clients are buying (into you)? For the thing that they want? And keep coming back? Because they like what they buy. And from whom they buy it.

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