With all the talk today about the need to create a great experience for customers, why are so many companies overwhelmed with a tidal flood of customer complaints?
Much of it is little, picky stuff. But small things get big in a customer’s mind, and the next thing you know, the customer is gone — for good. Spotting the little stuff that upsets customers is the first step. The next one is to doing something about it.
Here are examples of little stuff that drive customers crazy — and away:
- “We make it easy for you.” For many customers, these words are a red flag. They’ve been duped too often. What’s easy from your viewpoint may be complicated and confusing to your prospects and clients. Check with them or think twice before using “easy” or “convenient.”
- Counter-intuitive websites.If visitors get confused when trying to navigate a website, they leave, unwilling to spend any time trying to figure it out. Websites are a marketing tool that must make sense to users.
- Making excuses. “Sorry you had a problem. I gave that to my assistant to take care of….” Or, “I meant to get back to you but I was in meetings all afternoon.” Such words inflame client rage, and send the message that someone is disorganized, distracted or incompetent. Your agency should be an “Excuse-Free Zone.”
- Slow is a killer.Amazon’s “1-click,” Apple pay, and 4-hour (or less) delivery all point in one direction: fast is never fast enough, as customer expectations go higher and higher. Slow, by whatever standard, isn’t tolerated.
- Having to repeat your story. It’s not only frustrating and drives customers out of their minds, but there’s no acceptable reason why it should occur. Yet, it happens all-too-frequently. “Isn’t this information already in your system?” a customer asks. The response is often an unsatisfactory excuse.
- Being put on hold endlessly. There is nothing worse than having to hear the same words repeated endlessly: “Your call is important to us. A representative will be with you shortly.” After 25 times the voice adds, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience.” The message the customer hears is different: “My call isn’t important to you.” Customers retaliate by leaving.
- Getting differing answers.“The agent assured me…” says the customer when making an inquiry a week later. “Oh, we’ve never done that,” according to someone else at the agency or the carrier. It raises the question, “Can I trust this agent or this carrier? Am I going to get what I expected?” Creating doubt drives customers away.
- Putting customers on the defensive. When they asked why something occurred without prior notice, the manager said, “We sent an email to everyone and posted the notice.” That’s how to make customers feel stupid. A better approach may have been, “I understand how you feel if you didn’t get the email. I’ll make sure that’s corrected.”
- Lack of knowledge.Even five years ago, having to deal with people who lacked knowledge was irritating, but often ignored. Today, with instant access to endless sources, customers won’t tolerate it. If customers want help, they’ll find it. Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s lost customers.
• More from John Graham: 22 behaviors that bother prospects and hamper sales
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