Doing a Great Job of Driving Customers Away

“As well as word-of-mouth, dealerships need to be aware that disgruntled customers now have a plethora of avenues down which they can vent their displeasure”. –www.spidersnet.co.uk

Let us just say that this exposition is a quirky take on what companies constantly do and the experiences they give, that qualify as a great job of driving customers away. Shocking as it may be – the customer experiences and service of some companies actually have a profound contrary effect on how customers respond. The premise of customer service is to attract and retain customers – most companies do a swell job of doing the opposite. It seems easy for companies to forget to address issues that annoy and vex customers the most. They are quick to forget problems and experiences that could send customers scurrying out the door or at least drop the amount of money they spend with the company.

The funny part is that companies believe that they have a firm grasp on the issues that irritate customers and are obviously surprised when the experiences with the company begin driving customers away in hordes. They believe they are doing everything right – from a round-the-clock call centre, to monitoring comments via social media, great frontline and sales teams, and products that would be at par with the market. How are they then still driving customers away? The truth is that most often the issues that vex customers and have the biggest impact on customer retention and profitability are the ones that customers remain silent about and instead would rather leave.  These ‘silent issues’ prove to be the most challenging and the undoing of most companies, forcing them to relook and revamp their customer experience and service strategies.

While all companies acknowledge the importance of keeping customers happy through pleasant experiences and top class service, not every company is successful at retaining their customers long enough. Surveys have revealed that a whopping 78% customers have left a transaction mid-way or gone back on their decision to buy, because they had lousy experiences and were treated slovenly – that is a huge amount of business that companies forfeit because they have mastered the art of driving customers away. They do things, maybe inadvertently, that not only makes customers leave, but also prevents them from coming back. In addition, some frustrated customers could spread negative word of mouth and use the many avenues to vent, thereby keeping other prospects away too.

You would be doing a great job of driving customers away by being inaccessible or making it extremely hard for them to reach you. Of course, you are so busy running your business that getting people to answer phones or respond to emails, just does not cross your mind or even if it does, you won’t do it because it will cost you a few bucks. What such companies do not realize is that their eagerness to ‘save’ money is actually costing them at least 80% business – stats reveal that this is the percentage of people that hang up if they are unable to speak to a live person and refuse to leave a voice message since their experience dictates that no one will hear them. So yes – great job of driving customers and their business away. Poor communication systems and lack of a team to connect with customers, is a shoddy way to run a business – it tells customers that you would not be there if they need you or when they face a problem and will ensure that they run as far away from your company as possible.

Sure, you have been in the industry for a long time and have had an impressive list of customers, so it would be right for you to assume that you know what every customer needs and expects. Making assumptions on these critical and essential aspects, is another great way of driving customers away, so carry on jumping to conclusions and providing solutions without thoroughly understanding the customers. It is fatal and self-defeating for the simple reason that for customers their need or problem is unique, important and a first for them. By assuming that you know and believing that a complaint is similar to the other, what your company essentially says to customers is that they are one of many and that they are not as special and unique as they believe. Even if a problem or issue is very basic and can be easily fixed, customers want to know that you are paying attention and will do the right thing to resolve the problem. If they get the impression that your company does not care, they are most definitely never going to connect with your company again and would most likely let others know what they should never expect.

The thing with customers is that they may never complain and may even be happy with your company. However, what they definitely expect is that the company they have invested time and money in, takes the trouble to connect with them simply to follow up or check on whether everything is as they expect it to be. If however, your company is hell bent on driving customers away it could just wait until something goes wrong and then get into a reactive mode. Proactivity is not required here. Companies must know that at least 70% customers base their buying activity on how a company makes them feel. They will not do business with a company that makes them feel unimportant and unwanted – they will let their friends and associates know about this, thereby preventing them too from becoming customers.

As a customer don’t we hate it when companies continually shove goods and services ‘in your face’ in a bid to sell all the time. Well, some companies do just that. Every message and every point of connection is a sales pitch, and that too a hurried and poorly done one. Customers of today are well-informed and those companies that believe they have some ‘magical’ powers to lure customers through constant selling, are doing a great job of driving customers away. Research and surveys have proved that at least 64% customers said that they have walked out of a store where the sales person may have been too pushy. We are not saying that a company does not have to make efforts to sell, but overwhelming customers with messages, sales pitches, a seemingly endless list of products and offers, is sure to have them running in the opposite direction from your company – never to return.

As a customer, all of us have probably received that special mail with an id that says Do Not Reply. It just makes you want to connect with the company right? You know the answer – driving customers away through such mails is very easy. It seems like the company is too busy or has something to hide and hence do not want customers writing back to probe the email or ask any questions about the company and its products. When customers believe a company appears closed or is hiding behind ‘walls and screens’, it is a red flag and will surely have customers marching out the door. Who wants to deal with a company that is probably dishonest and lacks integrity – we know that customers want to deal with people they like and trust.

We have discussed several times that customer loyalty is hard to come by now and even those who manage to achieve it, will vouch for its ephemeral nature. So after struggling to gain customers, and putting in years of hard work to keep them happy, is it good business sense to do things that would drive them away? It would be prudent for a company to remain disciplined in their approach to customer service and treat every customer with respect – else your competitors are waiting ‘in the wings’ to steal your customers away at the slightest hint of a problem.

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