7 ways businesses scare customers away
What are you afraid of this Halloween? That your customers could disappear like ghosts? That your competitors might take them like vultures? To avoid such grizzly results, make sure your client experience isn’t shaped by any of these horrible practices – all of which are guaranteed to scare customers off:
Mistake # 1: Responding to customer requests like a zombie.
Are your business responses to customer inquiries heavily scripted, like they came from a low budget horror movie? Could your customers have the impression that whatever they say, they are receiving form letters and teleprompter-type messages in response?
When your staff robotically interacts with customers, your organization is missing out on a huge opportunity to differentiate its brand experience. Without active listening, critical thinking and personalized problem solving, your employees will appear like zombies – and customers will surely shy away from them.
Mistake # 2: Cut expenses and work with a small staff.
Particularly in times of economic crisis, the first reaction of many companies is to reduce investment in aftermarket operations. These areas are often not seen as generating income and therefore become easy targets when profits need to be sustained. But while the small workforce can offer immediate gratification in terms of reduced expenses, it also promotes negative impressions that could stifle favorable impressions of the brand.
Rudimentary operations result in long checkout lines, miserable 800 lines waiting time, a generally inattentive service, as well as visibly overworked and irritated employees. These are hardly the ingredients for a great customer experience, nor an effective recipe for go through a recession.
Mistake # 3: Embarking on monstrous transformation projects.
Business transformation is overrated. It’s good to have high aspirations and lofty goals, but you also need to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Large, hairy and bold projects tend to be ill-defined and almost impossible to manage. In addition, most companies suffer from “Organization ADDAnd find it difficult to stay focused on a 3 month project, let alone 3 years.
Transformation projects are a good copy of the annual report, but they often fail to deliver valuable improvements for employees and customers. (Sometimes they only bring disruption and dissatisfaction.) Yes, take a long-term view, but never underestimate the power and effectiveness of incremental strides towards this destination.
Mistake # 4: Never do an autopsy.
In the hustle and bustle of day-to-day business operations, people rarely take the time to analyze and diagnose customer problems. Customer complaints provide a wonderful opportunity not only to graciously recover (and maybe win back a consumer’s loyalty), but also to unearth the root cause of a problem and fix it, once and for all, so that it never raises its ugly head again.
What could be rarer than post-mortems on customer complaints? Autopsies on the client compliments. It is very useful to determine which person or thing generated a moment of pleasure for the client, so that you can then figure out how to reproduce that result more routinely.
Autopsies can produce quick-fix learnings that eradicate customer frustrations forever or permanently institutionalize loyalty-enhancing business practices.
Mistake # 5: Creating a workplace that sucks in people’s life force.
Customer experience and employee experience are inextricably linked. To create happy and loyal customers, you need to have happy and engaged employees.
If your business has a work environment where staff don’t feel appreciated, respected, or well-equipped to do their jobs, then you’re sure to dissipate their energy and passion faster than a vampire at dawn. Customers will undoubtedly notice this difference in your staff, and it will have a deterrent effect on the volume of business they do with you.
Mistake # 6: Don’t tell your customers what’s around the corner.
A good customer experience is largely about managing expectations. The frustration (or joy) people have with a business is closely related to the expectations they initially had.
Customers don’t like ambiguity or unpleasant surprises. If you don’t tell them what to expect – how long it will take them wait, how many papers they will have to fill out, when their purchase will arrive, etc. – then they are more likely to be annoyed when the experience is not as quick, simple or straightforward as they expected.
Mistake # 7: Avoid property like the plague.
Does your business have ghost customers? Do people endlessly wait for a callback to respond to their request? Are employees not following up on customers as promised? Do commitments regularly fall by the wayside?
When a company and its employees shy away from ownership, things get horrible. This is because all that customers often want is for someone to come forward, say “I can help you” and, in fact, thinks.
No matter how beautiful your store, how friendly your staff, or how beautiful your website is, if your business is not imbued with an ethic of ownership and responsibility, it will forever be cursed by excessive attrition from customers.
No sane company tries to scare its customers. But it’s inevitably the result when businesses lose sight of what’s important and valuable to the people they serve.
Are you haunted by the prospect of your customers switching to a competitor? Do something before your worst nightmares come true. Avoid these seven serious mistakes, and before you know it you’ll be casting a spell on your customers that will keep them coming back for more.
Like this article ? Register now here for Jon Picoult’s monthly email newsletter and get customer experience and leadership information delivered straight to your inbox.