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You Can't Beat Habit

Learning how to alter customers' routines likely means making significant changes to your own.

This story appears in the July 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Let's face it: Your regular customers are on autopilot. When a purchase is repeated enough times, it becomes habit. However, market shifts can disrupt even the most powerful habits, and the current financial meltdown is the single biggest market disruption we've ever lived through. Customers are altering their behavior because of uncertainty about the future: laying off employees (maybe even your contacts), hoarding cash and postponing routine purchases. All purchase decisions are now up for conscious review.

This is a daunting challenge, but it also creates opportunities. Here are some ways to get your customers back in the habit of buying from you.


Heads up on habit

Five behavioral changes that could mean your customer is getting ready to turn away from you:

1. Decreased order frequency

2. Adjustments in order volume (up or down)

3. Change in communications patterns

4. New organizational structure

5. Increase in complaints


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