How to Lose Customers (and Potential Customers) in Five Easy Steps

Companies with short-term vision, companies concerned only about making the sale and closing the deal, instead of building trust, credibility and relationships have mastered the following five tips on how to lose customers:

  1. Ignore them. During the busy holiday season, I conducted a little experiment.  I decided that I would only purchase items in stores where someone offered to help me.  I browsed each store with a list in hand, in same cases wandering multiple aisles trying to find an item on my list.  Thankfully my list wasn’t too long because I walked out of a lot of stores that had what I was looking for.  The number of employees who looked past me or who walked right by me without any acknowledgement was astonishing.  All they had to do to get me to pull out my credit card was acknowledge me and ask if they could help. That’s it.
  2. Talk down to them.  Sometimes customers ask stupid questions. Oh wait … no they don’t! They are valid questions to the customer. The customer is not the expert on your business or the products and services you offer.  You are!  Plus, there is a lot of incorrect information floating around that your customer may have heard.  Treat their questions with respect.  Making the customer feel stupid is not good for business.
  3. Take them for granted.  You are not doing the customer a favor by offering your product or service.  You are meeting a need, solving a problem, providing entertainment or joy, but chances are another company can also meet that need, solve that problem or entertain them.  When a customer chooses to spend their time and money with you instead of your competitor, that is a reason to be thankful.  Customers want to be appreciated. They want to feel valued and special.  Let your customers know you appreciate them.  Thank them for their business, their support and their loyalty.
  4. Make promises you can’t keep.  This isn’t about service breakdowns. Those happen to even the best of the best. (The best of the best have plans in place to deal with those breakdowns when they happen.) This is about telling someone a lie or stretching the truth in order to close a sale. It’s about deliberately omitting information on a product or service that if the customer knew, they would not purchase.  It’s about looking to close the deal instead of about looking to build a relationship.
  5. Spam them.  Just because we exchanged business cards at a some networking event does not mean you have my permission to add me on to every one of your mailing lists.  The same thing applies if I download a free whitepaper or fill out a form.  At the very least, let me know that if I do request a free download or complete a form, I will get multiple emails from you. That way I can decide if what you are providing is worth the email bombardment.

These are just five things I came up with.  What are some things that have turned you away from doing business with a company?   Please feel free to share by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of this post.  

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It’s Not Personal!

Have you ever received a call from an over-zealous telephone sales person; the one who simply refuses to accept your “I’m not interested” response to their sales pitch?  I had one who implied that my lack of interest clearly demonstrated a lack of intelligence and understanding as to the value his product could provide.  The implied insult did nothing except bring the call to a very abrupt end!

That is an extreme example of someone who believed I needed what he had to offer and wouldn’t take no for an answer. But it does bring to mind a question some service professionals have, “How do I respond when a suggestion I make is not acted on?”  The important thing to remember is … don’t take it personally.

I have been working with a company on some marketing ideas for my business.  Many ideas and suggestions were presented.  Some I liked. Some I didn’t. I was a little taken aback at the defensive response I received when I made the decision not to implement some of the proposed activities. While those tactics may work for some companies, some businesses, I did not feel they were a fit for me or my business. They did not reflect how I interacted with my customers or potential customers.  That didn’t make the suggestions wrong; that just made them wrong for me.

In the service industry, it is our job to provide suggestions.  The more time we spend in a role, the better we become at assessing our customers and providing suggestions we believe will be of benefit to them.  In the end though, it is the customer’s choice to accept our suggestions or not.

If customer doesn’t take you up on your suggestions, it is not a reflection on your knowledge or your expertise. Even when you “know” they made the wrong choice, don’t justify your recommendations or continue to push the passed on option.  Implying the customer made the wrong choice doesn’t build the type of relationship that will bring them back again.   Instead be gracious. Focus on the benefits their choice offers and provide the type of service that will bring them back again.