Toby Griffin | What you can do when you’re ‘ghosted’ by customers

Independent KBB business consultant Toby Griffin on what to do when potential customers go silent and you’re bring ‘ghosted’

18 Mar, 24

Independent KBB business consultant Toby Griffin on what to do when potential customers go silent and you’re bring ‘ghosted’

Toby Griffin | What you can do when you're being 'ghosted' by customers

Have you ever seen a ghost?  Apparently about one in three people in the UK say that they have.

Have you ever felt like a ghost though?  Because one thing’s for sure, when working in the KBB industry, you’ll have certainly felt like one at various times, when a client suddenly goes silent on you, after sometimes many hours of work put in.

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This is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of client interaction, and as – in the intervening days, weeks and months – you’re left wondering what’s happened, if it was something you said or did; or whether your client has left the country, is unwell, or worse!

Ghosting advice

So what to do, when you are being ghosted?  Firstly it’s pretty hard not to take offence.

If you had contacted the potential customer directly, with reference to drumming-up some business, then I guess they don’t ‘owe’ you the right to respond to your follow-ups.

But in the case of a customer that visits your business, expresses an interest by email, message, etc; or – even worse – takes up a lot of your time in discussions and presentations, then just disappears off the radar, it can be very frustrating.

 As all of us that work in sales/design understand, knowing how much time to spend with a customer before getting some sort of money off them is such a judgement call; and my (unwanted) record in KBB retail is 12 meetings with a client before getting a deposit, whereas many other clients – thankfully – have bought at first presentation.

Reasons for avoidance

But, until you know the reason you are being ghosted it can feel very rude, but some soul-searching coupled with some realism can help.

So what are the reasons that customers might ghost you?

  1. The lead has been mis-qualified

This generally is the case if the budget has not been sought early in the process; but it can also be a case that the design brief has been mis-interpreted.

2. They’ve found a ‘better deal’

Now, as we know, the nuances of kitchen and bathroom product specification means that the end-user often believes that like-for-like price comparisons are easily available (which of course they rarely are!).  Explaining your company’s unique offering early in the process helps to avoid this.

3, You were too quick or too slow to get back to them

Just like Goldilocks, you are looking for your service to be ‘just right’.

Respond too quickly and it feels desperate and lacking in consideration; respond too slowly and the customer starts looking around at other options.

Generally the entry level of the industry requires quick/immediate responses, whereas clients at the higher end prefer a calmer, more patient approach.

4, Their circumstances have changed

It’s rare that our own personal situation stays the same for long, and so is the case with our customers.

They may have had a sudden, unexpected expense (particularly common when there is building work involved); their time gets sucked up by an unexpected event; couples separate; people just change their minds sometimes; or they decide to go on a super holiday instead.

Having the patience and a calm demeanour to avoid saying “Where the hell have you been!?!” – when they walk back into the showroom a year later – really takes some self-control!

It is worth noting though that most people would prefer to be civil and get back to you – even in any of the above situations – but the ‘ghosting’ is generally an attempt by customers to avoid a difficult conversation.

Working out why that conversation would be difficult for them is the trick to reducing this ghostly effect.   But sometimes it’s also important for your own sanity to just be realistic, and to learning how handle the not-knowing really helps.