To Switch or Not To Switch – 4 Ways to Stop Customer Churn


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According to a recent comprehensive international study conducted by Accenture, 52% of customers reported that poor customer service caused them to switch from one brand to another in the past year. In the U.S. alone that “switching” behavior means poor service costs brands over 1.6 trillion dollars.

Given those numbers from Accenture and prior research from Bain and Co. showing that it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire than retain customers, common sense predicts more business leaders would invest to develop cultures of service excellence. But then again, Will Rogers once said, “common sense ain’t common.”

Rather than lacking common sense, I suspect many leaders need guidance on how to stop the 1.6 trillion dollar US customer churn problem and save money through retention strategies as opposed to advertising and marketing spend.

So let’s hit the highlights of “customer-obsessed cultures of service excellence”:

Select for Service Talent – I often say, you can’t put in what God left out. Some people are not suited to serve others. For example, if you have to tell someone to smile while serving customers or to take their ear buds out and stop listening to their music, you probably hired the wrong person.

Develop Service Talent – As is the case with athletic talent, individuals with service talent shine when they receive great coaching. I like to think leaders are not throwing advertising dollars out the window by failing to support acquisition efforts with service development and training investments. Why buy “top of mind” awareness to drive traffic if that traffic spins right out your door based on bad service.

Talk About Customer Service Incessantly – It’s been said we are what we eat. I am certain we are what we talk about! If you talk about all that is wrong in the world you are a complainer. If you talk about the importance of customer service and share examples of successes and breakdowns, you are a customer service leader!

Reward Service Talent – Put your money where your mouth is! Celebrate those who treat others well. Recognize them and link compensation to service excellence.

Accenture gives us 1.6 trillion reasons to up our game when it comes to customer experience excellence. How much more do we need?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


  1. This is a great post. I think there’s an overly large focus on service talent, which while essential – sidesteps the real issue – which is that humans will always make mistakes. You can have lots of processes and best practices. The trouble is that implementing and tracking them must be made easy so that things happen properly, on-time, at high quality.

    I feel that the churn problem is more about process management, because it’s a problem that one can actually control. The other factors that cause customer churn are outside of all control and are external – competition, better offerings, etc.

    More about our thoughts on this subject are here:

    Combining great people with great process is the ultimate way to reduce and ultimately – remove churn.

  2. Amit, your thoughts on the impact of process management and churn are insightful. Churn is affected by product, processes and people I suspect.


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