If you’re like most business owners, you spend a lot of time developing strategies for obtaining new customers. This makes sense. Businesses grow as they acquire new customers. But retaining existing customers is equally as important. In fact, most business experts will tell you that it takes five to 10 times more effort to win new customers than it takes to keep existing ones.
In our competitive business environment, retaining customers isn’t just a good idea. It’s essential! This means keeping them happy. Surprisingly, there are some very common, undeniably irritating things that many of us do to turn off customers. And these actions can sometimes be so annoying that customers feel the need to take their business elsewhere.
If you’re committed to keeping your customers, you’ll definitely want to read the following 10 turn offs that can make a customer jump ship. By making some quick fixes, you can cultivate your existing customer base and turn them into your loyal brand advocates.
Frustrate Them by Phone
We have all become accustomed to doing business via the Internet, but the phone still remains a primary customer touch point. And this seemingly innocuous communication tool can literally make or break a relationship with a customer. A bad phone experience remains one of the top ways a business can tick off a customer and in an amazing number of ways!
Everything from the phone that doesn’t get answered to the automated voice prompts that send you to eternal hold with a background track of droning or elevator music, a business’s phone can transform an otherwise happy customer into one seeing red in a shockingly short amount of time.
It is well worth your time to “shop” your phone system so that you can experience what your customers do when they call you. If it sounds unprofessional or if it’s unclear, it’s time to rethink your message and system configuration. If your phone simply isn’t answered, you may need to ramp up your customer service practices. Is it time to hire a support person to answer your phone, or could a professional greeting improve your customers’ experience with this important aspect of your business?
Break Your Promises
Every business makes a mistake from time to time. But if you are consistently making promises that you know you can’t keep, you and your business will be deemed unreliable and unprofessional. You’re always better off under promising and over delivering than the other way around. Your word is golden until you begin breaking promises. Once you develop a “reputation,” customers will steer clear of you. No one has time for drama or dropped balls!
If you’re finding that you’re unintentionally breaking promises, it may be time to take a step back from your business to strategize your ordering process, delivery times, and work/life balance. Sometimes, a regrouping of how you’re managing your business can help you better organize the day-the-day happenings of your business.
Bill Them Incorrectly
Billing errors can damage a relationship with a customer quickly and permanently. No one appreciates being overbilled for something they’ve purchased. And under billing can have a similarly negative effect by making your business look sloppy and unfocused. Make it a point to stay on top of billing so that you’re not having to deal with irate customers with billing problems. Whether it’s using small business software or handing over your accounting to an outside professional, don’t risk losing customers because of invoicing problems.
Confuse Them with Rules and Policies
Your customers want a simplified, straightforward experience when they buy from you. Wouldn’t you want this, too? They certainly don’t want to read fine print, have to decipher confusing procedures, or guess what you’re trying to sell them. The “Keep it simple, stupid” approach is always best when it comes to dealing with customers. Value their time, and don’t make them jump through hoops to buy from you!
Bug Them Continuously
We all get the daily email blasts from aggressive online retailers and direct mail coupons from those less than desirable fast food joints. Credibility and class go right out the window when you cross the line between being proactive and being downright pushy.
In this age of being able to shoot out email blasts and social media posts to thousands in mere seconds, it’s easy to overdo it. Instead of focusing on quantity, it’s often better to reach out less frequently but with a more impactful message.
It’s safe to say that your customers do not want to read what you’re doing after hours on Facebook and don’t need five emails a week reminding them that you’re having a sale. By turning down the frequency of your outreach and turning up the quality of your message, you can avoid having your customers tune you out!
Consistently Under Deliver
This goes hand in hand with breaking promises. If you are promising the world with a product and service that you know falls far short of this, consider that you’re letting your customers down and damaging your credibility.
Yes, you may be able to acquire new customers with this undoubtedly irritating customer turn-off, but they will drop you as soon as they know you can’t live up to your own hype. As the quote from Abraham Lincoln goes, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Use Buzzwords and Jargon
Is your website, collateral, and speech full of anagrams, abbreviations, and texting message shorthand? You may think it’s fast and witty, but you could be leaving your customers scratching their head in frustration – or worse, thinking that you’re pretentious. It’s your job to be able to clearly communicate to them, not their job to try and decipher what you’re saying.
Save the insider speak for chatting with your internal team, and make sure that customers “not in the know” aren’t taking their business to a clear-speaking competitor.
Keep Them Waiting
How long are your customers waiting for you? Time on hold, time waiting for orders, time for you to process a return. If you’re customers are gazing at the clock or the calendar, you’re jeopardizing your relationship with them. Like with broken promises and under delivering, keeping customer waiting smacks of rudeness and a profound lack of appreciation.
Never Offer Anything Extra
Most likely, you’re not the only business that offers what you do. Your customers have choices. So where they decide to take their business depends on your differentiators. Great service and good prices are a given. But to keep customers loyal and to encourage them to become your brand advocates, you need to do more. This means going the extra mile. This could mean a freebie or a special customer discount on a future purchase. Or you can get more creative. Think of what your customers would consider an extra value and determine if you can provide this for them as a way to say thank you for being your customers.
Consider Them a Hassle
Finally, we’ve all had an experience with a waiter, a customer service representative, or a salesperson who is just too busy or not interested in providing decent service. How did it make you feel? Most likely, you told others about the treatment you received, and you may have even asked to speak to a manager.
Don’t fall into the trap of forgetting to appreciate your customers. If you don’t put them first, they will certainly return the favor so to speak. And this is something that needs to be engrained throughout the culture of your business. Don’t tolerate others in your business being rude to customers either. Remember, good manners always mean good business!
About the Author: Victoria Treyger, the CMO of Kabbage, has more than 15 years of experience in building brands and customer loyalty. She joined Kabbage because she loved the message: To understand customers better and provide them with cash when they need it.