#185: Why Clients Leave - Part 1


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Why do clients leave?

It seems odd, doesn't it? When you ask a client why they join, they seem to suggest it is all about information and content, but then they inexplicably leave. They seem to suggest they need either better content, or they need time to implement the content. But that's rarely the case, as we've found out.

The need is far greater and we've all experienced it. Clients leave for a very obvious reason that you're never going to find in analytics software or surveys. Listen to find out more.

Read the podcast online: Why Clients Leave.


Ok, so it has always bothered me why clients leave.

And when that thought crossed my mind, I was sitting in the cafe—the very cafe I'd been avoiding for well over a year or more. So now I had two thoughts: why do clients leave? And why did I return to the cafe? In case you're wondering, the answer is not “coffee”. And if wasn't the coffee, then it had to be something else, right?

But let's leave the cafe for a second and go online—say to a membership site, instead

Let's say you belong to a membership site and the membership fee comes up for renewal. Why do you stay? Or why do you leave? The obvious answer is: it's the product or the service, right? And yet when we look at membership sites all over the place, there's really no shortage of content.

No matter how grotty the site, there's usually way more content than you can browse, let alone consume. Videos, audio, articles, reports—they all swarm around you with increasing intensity. If the content were really the problem, you have no problem, do you?

So let's take another angle

There's too much content, and you really can't absorb it all. You've had your fill, and you now need to buckle down and focus on your business. Even if you have received advice and answers to your questions; even if your business has indeed gone ahead, you still need some breathing space to implement all of that information.

We say it, but we don't mean it, do we? None of us has time. We didn't have time yesterday, or last week, last year, or even in the last decade. Time marches on to the sound of a jiggling rumba beat, and there's no way we can stop that time parade. So it can't be the focus or the time off, because the moment we've left the site, that information will cease to exist, but some other stuff will replace it.

And that's when I finished the foam of the coffee, and I got my “bfoto”

Yup, that's short for “blinding flash of the obvious”. People, clients—they don't leave because they need time to focus; or because they're not getting enough content. Most of the time they don't even leave because they need the money. Unless the relationship with the site or the coach is just crappy, it makes more sense to get good advice and pay the fee. If it's not the money, or the content, or the time, what is it?

It is the “people”. To get back to the cafe story above, we were regulars at the cafe about two years ago. However, back then, we knew a lot of the people at the cafe and by people I mean the staff. Then the manager, Justine, left and took some of the staff with her. Suddenly the place wasn't so appealing, even though nothing much had changed.

Two years slipped by, and we avoided the place. One day early this year, the current manager invited us in. She assured us we'd get great service and the coffee we were used to. And suddenly we're home again. We got to know the current staff, they know us, and it's like nothing's changed.

The bfoto—or blinding flash of the obvious is just “people”

When asked why we buy products or services, we often give a logical reason. We reel out the features or the benefits, but in reality, it's the people. It's the reason you and I have a preference for a particular petrol station, when all petrol stations have the same product, at approximately the same price.

It's the reason why we don't care for rotating hairdressers or barbers, choosing as far as possible to go to the same one every single time. I know it's evident that people matter, but how does this play out when you consider the field of marketing? And what are you supposed to do if clients are starting to leave even when you're doing your best?

The plot thickens. Stay tuned.

We noticed something very odd in the courses we conduct online

The online courses, like the Article Writing Course, is remarkably difficult, and rightly so. You're trying to compress a skill that usually takes years, into just 12 weeks. This intensity means you're going to have several sleepless nights, have to do assignments, interact with the group.

Wait, interact with the group?

Isn't learning about the teacher and the student? What's this group nonsense about? And if you look at the data, the data speaketh plainly. It says: those that interact with the group do two things consistently. The first being they finish the course and show a far higher skill level than those who don't interact with their group.

The second point is that clients, having done one course, then show up for a second course; then a third; buy many products and services; come to offline events, and so on. The ones that don't interact with the group, and merely do their assignments don't exactly fall off the face of the Earth, but they're—and I hesitate to say this—less skilled and more likely to leave, or find it harder to go on (for some reason or the other).

Africans knew this a long time ago

In Africa there's a saying: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a group. However, when you look at the saying, or the course, or the cafe, what you see repeatedly is the interaction with people. We are really like a herd of elephants that want to travel together, as far as possible and not some lonely leopard sitting by itself on a tree in the middle of the Himalayan foothills.

We want to be together, or at least to know each other. The blinding flash merely is that if you don't get people to become part of the group, they will get less of a benefit, pick up fewer skills and finally find they need to leave.

We've found this phenomenon to play out repeatedly in our business

If clients come to a workshop, they meet. And at Psychotactics we don't have this thousand person, 150 session seminar. We have boutique workshops, which means you don't take notes; but instead, you work on your project and the projects of the group (yes, here comes the group again).

And in doing so, we find that clients come back repeatedly not just for the workshops, but also for other products and services. They've connected with Renuka and me, that's for sure, but they've also connected with each other.

Which is why we started having paid meet ups

You noticed the term “paid”, right? We tried having free meet ups, and they just fizzled and died because it's easy to look out the window, see the rain and climb back into paid. A paid meet up leads to commitment, and you get a 90-100% turnout. Anyway, the meet ups had the same effect. The more people met, the more they knew each other and the more they then interacted in 5000bc. The interesting bit is that they didn't just interact with others they'd met, but with the rest of the members in 5000bc.

And as you'd expect, a phenomenally large number of those we've met in person are still members of 5000bc. Some have been members for ten years, some have been around for 15, while others are newer. It isn't to suggest that longtime members are people we've met with or interacted with on a live course. If you're looking for a magic trick, it's right in front of your eyes: it's the people.

What should we do at Psychotactics to increase this interaction?

What are we currently doing? Quite a few things. The first is the chocolate bar, the second are the e-mails, the third is the Taking Action forum, the fourth is the welcomes when you join—but instead of a list, let's find out how it all works. And yes, let's find out what else we can do because there's a real downside when a client leaves or doesn't participate.

If you look way back to the tribe, you'll notice that every person in the tribe could bring knowledge to the fireplace. When that elder didn't participate, the group was poorer. Or if a participating elder died, that group's learning and interaction were greatly impoverished. Going alone sounds pretty cool, but it's terrible for the group, and it's crappy for the individual.

We're not done yet. I'll be back to explain how we use and how we can use the people interaction for mutual benefit. Oh, and you know how it's frustrating when you don't have examples, lots and lots of examples, well, “don't you worry”, there will be examples galore. Let's move to the next part, shall we? But before we do, let's take a little detour into what makes people happy.

Robert Waldinger is the director of a project that should have been abandoned a few decades ago.

He's the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is possibly the longest study of adult life that's ever been done. Over the past 75 years, the study tracked the life of over 724 men, year after year, deeply digging into their homes, their lives, their health and one more thing. They were also asked how their life stories would turn out.

A study like this is extremely rare, because funding tends to dry up, the researchers get bored or the people involved in the study die. Yet this study is still going and still has about 10% of the original participants still alive and well into their 90s.

And what did they learn?

The real happiness came from something extremely boring: good relationships. Yup, that was it. 80% of today's millennials, when surveyed, want to be rich and at least 50% want to be famous. Yet, the thing that people figure out over time, is seemingly mundane. It's that we crave relationships most of all. People who are socially connected to each other are physically healthier and live longer and happier lives. Secondly, the quality of those relationships matter. Toxic relationships don't count for much.

And the third big lesson that they learned about relationships is that good relationships don't just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. It turns out that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your is protective, that the people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people's memories stay sharper longer.

But what has all of this got to do with your business?

It's the “bfoto”: the blinding flash of the obvious. We all want stuff, don't we? We want to be rich and famous, but most of all, we want to feel wanted. All those phrases of “no one is an island” or “love me or hate me, but don't ignore me” comes into play. And this feeling of being wanted goes right to the very root of our happiness.

UC Berkeley psychologist and author Dacher Keltner. When Pixar was doing research for the movie, Inside Out, they needed guidance from an expert on emotions and they turned to Dacher Keltner.

Anyway, here's what Keltner said in an interview with Shane Parrish from Farnam Street.com. “The connection, you know, happiness, our sense that life is going pretty well, is strongly driven by three things in the vast scientific literature now. One is the positive emotions we’ve been talking about, like mirth and laughter and love and sympathy. Another is how you handle stress and negative emotion. The third is social connection“.

We are so focused on adding content, playing with technology and dancing with keywords that we forget to work on the most basic (and most wanted) human emotions of connectedness. Advertising and great salesletters are important to get the client to become part of your clientele or community, but it's what you do next that makes all the difference.

Keeping clients is—at least to my mind—the most important part of a function of how you go about connecting them, getting them to talk to each other and help each other. And voilà we are still going to have some people that leave, but by and large, people want to stay.

This concept applies to every job most of us have ever held

Most of us get into a job for economic or prestigious reasons. Even so, even when the money or prestige is great, we feel like chumps and long to find another job if the company isn't great. We long for the people and the connections and to be treated with dignity and respect. This “bfoto” is something almost all of us have experienced if we've been in a job somewhere. And it applies just as profoundly in your business.

But how do we go about creating this community and connectedness?

Let's find out what we are doing at Psychotactics and maybe you can add to the list as well. it would be great if you added what you're doing, to the list as well. And why you're doing it. But first, let's check out what we've done so far and how it has helped.

Next Step: Have you seen your customer back out of a deal at the very last minute?The Brain Audit is a complete system that enables you to understand what's going on inside the brain of your customer. It's a system that is based on a deep understanding of how our mind works.

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