How to Lose a Customer in 10 Ways

Building Customer Loyalty with Customer Service

Back in 2003, a movie came out called “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”   Kate Hudson plays a woman who goes out of her way to commit every single dating faux pas possible in order to push away potential boyfriend, Matthew McConaughey.  Recently we have been looking at customer service from a relationship standpoint and there is actually a lot that businesses can learn from taking at look at some dating “do’s and don’ts”.

Taking the lead from the movie’s premise of the top dating mistakes most likely to send a man running, we have put together a list of 10 things that are pretty much guaranteed to make your customers head for the nearest exit door.
How to Lose a Customer in Ten Ways
The list is in no particular order, because quite honestly, every one of the things on this list is just as bad as the other when it comes to trying to create loyal customers. 

If you are in one of the industries known for poor customer service, you might want to really pay attention to this list!

So, here are our top 10 Ways to Lose a Customer…

1) Not listening or paying attention

Okay, just like in a dating or marriage, one sure way to put a quick stop to a good relationship with your customers is to not listen.  No matter what the situation, when we pay attention to what people have to say and respond approprately, we're providing better service.  And it may seem like a paradox, but even the simple asking for customer feedback makes them happier.

2) Pretending to be something that you are not

Have you ever started dating someone who at the beginning, presented themselves one way, but as time went on, you learned that was not who they really were?  You know, when all the “bad habits” came to light, things that wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if you knew about them from the beginning?  Well the same thing holds true when it comes to how you should present yourself as a business.  Customers today want honesty and transparency.  They want to know who you are as a business, warts and all.

3) Not keeping promises

Or alternatively, over-promising and under-delivering.  In romantic relationships, breaking a promise is an obvious no-no, but when it comes to relationships with customers, you would be amazed at some of the “empty promises” that business and companies make.  Some businesses will say the darndest things to get you to like them.  Tip – want to keep customers loyal?  Don’t promise something you can’t deliver!

4) Not answering the phone/returning calls

Guys, want to really piss of your girlfriend?  Don’t call when you say you are going to or don’t return a phone call.  Businesses, want to do make your customers run quickly to the nearest competition? Do the same thing!  Remember, every phone call is an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with potential clients – make sure you don’t miss them!

5) Talking to much about yourself (aka bragging)

Rule number one for a first date – let the other person talk about themselves more than you talk about yourself.  No one likes a person who brags about their accomplishments or how “wonderful” they are.  Wait until you are asked, give the highlights and then direct the attention back to the other person.  The same principle is true when it comes to relationships between businesses and potential customers.  Instead of telling people how great you are, let your reviews speak for you.  “When you tell people how good you are, it's bragging; when other people say it, it's proof.” Beth Harris, Australian Computer Resellers

6) Not fighting fair (or not apologising when you've upset someone)

In a romantic relationship, you never really know someone until that first fight.  It’s often when a problem arises, after the “honeymoon period,” where you get to see a person’s true colours.   How you make it through problems is what can truly demonstrate the strength of a relationship.  Believe it or not, the same thing is true when it comes to how people feel about businesses and companies.  Numerous studies show that customers who have had a problem resolved with a positive outcome become even MORE LOYAL than customers who never had any problems.  The last thing you want to do as a business is not say you are sorry or admit when you have made a mistake. 

7) Not keeping up the “romance”

You know that time in a relationship, when everything is brand new?  When even a simple phone call (or in this day, a text) just to say “Hello, I’m thinking of you” would make you smile and your heart skip a beat?  If someone took that feeling and bottled it, they could make a fortune for couples, who years later, have falling into a routine.  As business owners, we always want to bring a smile to our customer’s faces because if we don’t they will surely go find another business who will. 

8) Not showing appreciation

It goes without saying that we all like to feel valued.  In relationships, especially the ones that have been going on for a while, that a person can feel taken for granted and this can lead to resentment and frustration.  Let me tell you, one of the last things you ever want to do is let your customers feel neglected or unappreciated.  Thank them for their business every chance you get.  Even better yet, create a program that shows your appreciation and rewards customers for their loyalty.   Oh, and don’t forget to say “thank you” to those customers who come to you with complaints – they deserve your gratitude too.

9) Not being trustworthy

This one may seem so obvious that you would think that it shouldn’t even be on the list.  But the reality is that there are lots of “little things” that businesses can do that will quickly destroy a trusting relationship.   For example, over-promoting a sale with signs every where that customers can’t tell what it actually applies.  And if there are exceptions to a sale, make sure the “fine print” is where people can see it.  Another one – not honouring a reasonable request for an exchange or a refund. Or better yet, not showing up for appointments or giving a courtesy call if you are running behind schedule.  All of these are example of things that will make you lose customers in a hurry!

10) Not acknowledging special occasions

Want to cause a lot of friction in a relationship?  Forget that it’s your anniversary or don’t get a birthday card for your loved one.  While this may not seem to be a deal breaker when it comes to maintaining customer loyalty, you may want to think twice.  If you are not doing something as simple as sending a “happy birthday” email or postcard to your clients, there is someone else who is – and that’s the business that they will remember.  With all the different advancements in technology, there really is no reason not to.
We hope that for the sake of developing and maintaining customer loyalty, you take this advice and avoid these customer service faux pas.
Psst… Like any relationship, customer service is a two-way street, a partnership.  Here are some great tips for customers on what they can do to help ensure they get exceptional customer service.


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