5 Guaranteed Ways to Tick Off Your Customers

Author: Stratton Date: November 27, 2013

Beware! These mistakes will send buyers running for the exit.

Business owners know that it’s all too easy to lose a customer. Potential buyers, even loyal shoppers, are ready to jump ship the moment you flub it.

Need proof? ServiceSource polled more than 200 IT decision-makers about how they do business. Some 52 percent said they receive calls or emails from competitors at least once per month, and 42 percent said they take those calls at least once per quarter, while 20 percent take them at least once per month.

You have to assume your customers are always looking for a better deal. You work hard to keep them happy: Good customer service, quality products. But what about the mistakes you make that chase them away? Here are a few.

1. Where’s my stuff?

"It drives me nuts when I order something online, get a confirmation email and then don’t know where my product is," says Wayne Gorsek, CEO of online natural-products vendor Poor supply-chain management is a big turn-off; sloppy logistics can burn an otherwise solid relationship. "When you choose your shipping partner, you're extending your customer-service commitment to your customer's door. If you don’t let your customers see their shipment from door to door, you allow in a potentially huge amount of anxiety that they will not want to experience again."

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2. Poison tongue.

"Of course you have a better product, and of course your biggest competitor is a slimy, ruthless, unscrupulous lout, but you don't need to tell a perspective client about it," says Jennifer Martin of Zest Business Consulting. You may want to razz the other team in hope of winning trust, but this will backfire, shifting focus away from all the good things you have to offer. Sell your own merits and let competitors dig their own graves. The negative sell just leaves a nasty taste.

RELATED: 3 Ways to Tactfully Criticize Your Competition

3. Dropping the ball.

"Don't make promises–direct or implied–you cannot keep," says Chip R. Bell, senior partner with business consultancy The Chip Bell Group. "Telling a customer over the phone you have a particular item, just to get them in the store, and then trying to sell them something else drives customer to a competitor." Too often, a business will close the sale and then move on without making sure the loose ends have been tied up. Signing the contract does not end the relationship: It's just the beginning. Sometimes you'll need to renew your focus on internal communications, making sure sales and fulfillment are always on the same page.

RELATED: Are You Making These 3 Contract Blunders?

4. Words unspoken.

When making the pitch, put all your cards on the table. "There is nothing worse than being told, after you have made a decision, that there is an extra step that needs to be completed, or a contract that needs to be signed," says Julian Dutton of credit-card processing site "Bringing these things up after the negotiation has taken place will create a lack of trust with the customers. If you are hiding something from the customer, you are hiding it for a reason, and the customer will know that. It is always better to put everything on the table."

RELATED: 8 Essential Characteristics of a Good Sales Negotiator

5. Words over-spoken.

"Most sales people talk too much and listen too little," says Michael Bremmer, CEO of business-telecommunications consultancy "Oftentimes people will 'talk past the sale.' They'll create objections in the customer's mind that weren't there before by talking too much. A confused mind never buys, and the more someone talks, the more confused people get, usually losing the sale." Learn to take "yes" for an answer.

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