TAMPA FLORIDA – In the spirit of fun, below are my top five tips on how to alienate customers. Hint: Just reverse each one to get an idea of the RIGHT way to create a great customer experience.
Five Tips on How to Lose Customers and Make People Hate You:
Bad customer experience can break a company since any business depends on their current customers to thrive which is sometimes forgotten in the race to get new clients. What you do AFTER the contract is signed is just as vital as what led up to the agreement. To put it another way, don’t sign a contract your staff can’t deliver on. The success of your business depends on making a stellar customer experience your main priority.
Jack Austin, a business management consulting expert in Los Angeles, bases the success of his work with executives on providing a great experience to his clients over time. I asked him to share his thoughts on how he approaches customer experience.
“The most expensive customer to acquire is the next one; the least expensive is the one you already have. Build a tribe of loyal fans and prosper,” says Austin.
Changes in Internet marketing in the last 10 years has put more power in the hands of customers through technology like cell phones allowing you to take a picture of a faulty product and Instagram it with just a few clicks. Even if the company doesn’t take your dissatisfaction seriously, your followers on social media sites certainly will.
While companies large and small obsess over how to increase their website traffic, word-of-mouth marketing is still alive and strong thanks to how easy it’s become for customers to share their experience, good and bad, with the world online.
If your backup plan for dealing with angry customers giving you horrible reviews is to try and bury the bad press through SEO, I’m convinced in the end even top companies can’t hide a deluge of bad customer experiences.
Like Dilbert’s boss shows, there are many ways to handle bad reviews of your company and some do bring ethics into question. And by the way, Dilbert’s boss is wrong. If a company gets enough complaints brought against it, they may receive a not-so-pleasant surprise from their state’s attorney general investigating them for bad business practices.
I’ve seen firsthand companies putting all their effort into the front end of getting a customer only to completely trash the potential of that relationship through not following through with their agreement. Even worse, the experience of the customer was so low priority, customers were often left shaking their fists in anger at getting the run around yet again that wasted another month of their time and still nothing moved forward on their project.
If your goal is to alienate your customers and put your business into a serious down-turn, this is a great way to short-cut that process.
Even with the best of intentions, there can be a large discrepancy between how well a company thinks they’re doing with making their customers happy and what their customers actually think. A steady stream of revenue does not automatically mean a company is providing the best customer experience.
According to an article from Harvard Business School: “As the money flows in, management begins confusing customer profitability with customer loyalty, never realizing that the most lucrative buyers may also be the angriest and most alienated.” (Emphasis mine)
The article goes on to define what sets apart the best companies in terms of creating a truly excellent customer experience. When you design offers and experiences to fit with the right customers, focus the entire company on delivering on these plans and improve your ability to make customers happy time and again, you’re on the right track. It sounds simple enough but many companies fall short of hitting the mark when it comes to dealing with customers, whether they’re happy or not.
It’s not the end of the world if a customer has a complaint about your product or service. What matters is how you communicate with them and show a real effort to turn it around. Are you quick to respond to communications from customers who have a concern? Do you make sure whoever has contact with customers is trained on the best way to put them at ease, listen to their concerns and offer solutions that resolve the problem? Good follow-through on solutions is also important. This can quickly turn a skeptical and upset client into an excited advocate for your business.
Sometimes even with the best effort, not all customers will stay. If you acted with integrity and went above and beyond to do what you could to show that customer respect, if it wasn’t the right fit, it’s OK for them to move on. They could even surprise you with a referral to a client who is a better fit for what you offer.
Do you have any tips on how to provide a truly stellar customer experience? Please share in the comments!