Are Employees Scaring off Customers?

Customer service is tough! As simple or as complicated as this statement may be, it is arduous to maintain high standards of service and professionalism at all times, especially when customers tend to push the limits of patience. Humans tend to get emotionally more intense when they feel they are being attacked and that’s how it feels when customers get demanding and rude when they don’t get what they want. Customer service representatives are expected to stay calm and emotionless during such interactions but when it happens consistently these interactions tend to drain energy making them less efficient and less productive. Not only that they would be pushed to ‘baring their teeth’ leading to scaring off customers. It comes as no surprise but the negative effects are huge – higher turnover, absenteeism, loss of productivity, low interest on the job and no regard for customer service. Companies that face this kind of employee unrest will go down sooner than they can react.

Negative environment and employees will undoubtedly be scaring off customers. No one would like to be treated poorly and shabbily irrespective of their status, size of business and social standing – much less customers who have invested in your company. Impertinent behaviour will not only be scaring off customers they would also talk about it, post comments on social media and just take their business elsewhere and vow never to return. One negative employee in the company can have that effect – so imagine what damage a bunch of them could do.

Companies must remember to constantly monitor their customer behaviour and check on whether some customers have left quietly or without reason. It’s possible that your customer service representatives are not exactly doing what is required of them and are scaring off customers by behaving completely conflicting to what customer service is expected to do. Your company would be better off if this behaviour was corrected immediately and if no change is noticed, then sending these errant employees packing would be the ideal solution. To reinforce ‘good behaviour’ by rewarding those representatives who are engaging with and keeping customers happy. Understanding the customers, resolving their issues promptly and simply showing customers that they care are the ideal behaviours to prevent scaring off customers and also coaxing them in to providing great feedback about your company and employees.

If the company expects employees to service customers with empathy, praise needs to be forthcoming. Research shows that a large number of associates did not receive praise for good work they had done for over a year. Companies suffer for this big time – not being effective and timely in praise for their employees and the efforts being put in. Ignored employees in turn have low morale and are the ones more likely to do things that will be scaring off customers and then also leave the employment of the company. If companies were monitoring employee behaviour and taking active feedback they would probably not make these mistakes. Sometimes companies have knee-jerk reactions to employee dissatisfaction and design award ceremonies to ‘recognize’ employees for their hard work. What happens in such cases is that a lot of good work has already gone unnoticed and employees have already done some damage by scaring off customers. Recognition and praise must be as close to the incident as possible if not instantaneous else it is similar to ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. The other flaw of such a reaction to ‘boost morale’ is that it works smoothly for a while, with good workers being praised and recognized but with time, the criteria changes, employees change, maybe even leadership changes and these programs begin to lose steam. Also being able to decide which employees should be recognized and who should be left out, gets harder to decide. Soon enough the whole program becomes a sham, with recognition often handed out to employees who either was the manager ‘yes man’ or someone who worked hard towards the end in order to receive that recognition. This program soon becomes an exercise based on whose turn it is next rather than being based on actual merit. The program soon becomes superfluous and empty leaving the receivers and non-receivers as disgruntled as before. It’s time now to work towards scaring off customers! “The company treated me bad, so why shouldn’t I hurt them where it will hurt most?” – have heard this statement a number of times.

In addition to messing up internally, what is your company doing externally that is scaring off customers?

– Out-dated, sad and drab looking websites. Just getting a website up and running is not enough no matter how exciting that may be. The website drags along with no updated content or information and is completely obsolete. If scaring off customers is what you seek to achieve, then this is the right way to go! For the companies that want customers to remain with them, update, revamp and invigorate your website regularly. Let is speak boldly and happily about your brand and ensure that your social media presence matches the liveliness and vivacity of your company and website. Also ensure that your website and offerings are user-friendly and smart mobile device friendly.

– Your frontline employees are not friendly – in fact they treat customers as an imposition and are blatant enough to actually show customers that they are peeved off and would much rather not help them. Great job at scaring off customers! However, if you are serious about retaining your customers, put checks in place to ensure that your business and customer service is actually working for the customers. Make poor customer service a zero tolerance activity and let employees know the standards they should operate at and if they find it uncomfortable to match up, they must find employment elsewhere. The trick is to hire right – as the maxim goes – hire for attitude and train for skills. Friendly, upbeat, positive and people with a can do attitude are your best bets for frontline customer service staff.

– Over and over usage of email promotions are not just scaring off customers they can kill business for good. This can easily be one of the most important tactics to scare customers especially when companies go in to overdrive trying to promote their business during a new launch, festival season or other such activities. Mindful companies would use email marketing judiciously and making the information relevant to the customers you are trying to reach. Make it easy for customers to unsubscribe to mailers if they so wish.

– Surprise or should I say ‘boo’ – your so called surprises are perhaps doing more harm than good and most certainly scaring off customers. Most customers love surprises but not the kind that will translate to failed expectations, non-delivery and or poor quality offerings. Not only will these ‘scared’ customers leave, they would ensure that potential customers are scared off too by spreading the frightful stories and experiences they have had. As a company ensure that your customer service staff and all staff understand the criticality of over delivering and under promising and not vice versa. Speedy, efficient and courteous service each time is the kind of surprises that customers would love to see, will keep coming back for and bring others with them.

– Does your store look like a dilapidated shack that could crumble any minute? Well scaring off customers won’t be tough when they see this run down place. Would you like to buy at a place that looks like this? Before opening up a store or setting up a business, ensure that you assess the benefits of the location and make sure that the physical location and neighbourhood is a vibrant and happy place, has a cheery glow sign, well-lit surroundings, enough parking and even the signage are enticing and welcoming. The interiors of the store must be clean, well-stocked and be managed by friendly and smiling staff.

Being in business is about attracting and retaining customers. By making some simple changes it is possible to stop scaring off customers and instead have them making a beeline for your products and services. All it takes is a little thought and proactive action speckled with enthusiasm and courteous service.

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