Are You Annoying Customers?

“To the customer, YOU are the company.” – Shep Hyken

It is possibly never the intention of any business to make service errors. Most of the time service lapses happen without a company even knowing that they are annoying customers to the extent that customers might leave. Many companies continue to struggle with building and sustaining relationships with their customers, and as a result are unable to gain their trust. It takes a lot of hard work and sustained effort to build trust and get customers to value the company. However, it takes just a few seconds for trust to be destroyed, leading to annoyed customers ready to spread the negative word of mouth and post terrible reviews on the most visible and far-reaching online sites. Is your company aware of things it does that maybe annoying customers? If not, it is time to evaluate and this exposition deals with the most common ways that companies shatter trust, ensuring that customers leave and never come back.

Given that people run businesses, the chances of errors are always there and sometimes they are higher than usual. Small things, even unintentional could leave customers fuming and believing that a company is incompetent and does not care. It is imperative for companies to make it their ‘business’ to keep customers happy and contribute to their success. They must show customers how much they care. Delayed responses, poor support over the phone, rude staff, long wait times for any kind of service – may not pique customers too much, but all these ‘behaviours’ are still quite annoying, and too many may land a company in trouble. While any company may have a cross-section of customers varying in age and preferences – there is usually something that a company could do to annoy them. Ranging from not connecting them to a real person to keeping them waiting for repair or other services, annoying customers seems to be something companies do constantly.

As a customer, how often have you heard phrases and words that only serve to irritate you further? “We are sorry for the inconvenience caused”, “Your call is important to us”, or other such phrases, can be extremely infuriating. These ‘canned’ responses and IVR menus show a customer that they are not important to the company since the persons and recorded voices uttering them sound robotic and disinterested – annoying customers through them is possibly one of the easiest things for a company.

We have discussed earlier that speedy and efficient responses and short wait times are amongst the top priorities for customers. Research has proven repeatedly that a very large percentage of customers – up to 45% – expect a response from a company via email within six hours. The truth however, is that only a very small percentage of companies actually respond in that timeframe. When companies do not respond in time, keep customers waiting, and do not keep them informed, customers become frustrated and vent their anger in various ways, including leaving the company.

It is important for a company to ensure that every customer feels special and is treated as an individual, rather than as one of the many persons, the company serves. ‘Herding’ them and providing ‘umbrella’ service all the time, is extremely frustrating and demeaning for customers. To keep away from annoying customers, companies must make every effort to personalize service and customize their offerings. They must hire staff dedicated to helping customers and providing them with the kind of service that customers love. Not only will customers share these experiences with others, they would actively encourage others to do business with the company. In addition, a company must ensure that it lets its existing customers know what policies and processes are in place to serve them with the highest levels, and ensure that these policies and guidelines figure prominently on their social media sites, website, and other office areas. This would ensure that a much wider audience would have access to the information around service levels of the company, increasing its chances of gaining more customers and enhancing its reputation in the marketplace.

Annoying customers – particularly the existing ones – is possibly one of the most common and fatal thing a company does. Post gaining customers, several companies pursue a new set of customers, offering them incentives and attractive deals, while not putting in place any such ‘special offers’ for existing customers. This in turn leads the current customers to believe that the company does not value their business, and so leave. While it is imperative for a company to acquire new customers, it is even more crucial to keep existing customers happy such that they remain profitable and become loyal. We know that 80% of any company’s business comes from 20% of its existing and loyal customers – enough reason to stop annoying customers who have stuck with your company and invested time and money. It is imperative to show these customers that they are extremely valuable for the company, that your company appreciates their trust and business, and that the company would do everything possible to keep them happy.

One of top ways that companies are annoying customers is by making ‘tall’ promises at the stage of marketing and sales. Most of the time these promises are made simply to attract and convert potential customers. However, these promises ring true for customers, and their expectation would be to see the promises delivered on, consistently. Most often, companies are unable to keep the promises they make, which becomes extremely disappointing and frustrating for customers. Customers do not take such breaches kindly, and are sure to vent their frustration before as many people as possible, using social media most often to spread negativity about a company. Customers can be forgiving – however, it is the onus of a company to inform them of why the company was unable to fulfil a promise, and what it would do to remedy the problem. Customers understand that there would be times when things do not work, but they are more concerned about how well and soon a company can recover from the error and provide customers with efficient and workable solutions.

As a customer, we all know how frustrating and annoying it is when the company’s employees seem ‘ignorant’ and ill informed about the company and its products. Hesitant, unintelligent, half-baked, and outright dumb answers to a query can instantly turn a prospective customer away, vowing never to come back. It is the responsibility of a company to ensure that all its employees understand its offerings, culture, values, and procedures of doing business, such that when customers ask, they receive prompt and sensible answers and solutions. Uninformed and unintelligent staff in a company would not only be annoying customers, but would also highlight the internal inefficiencies of the company, which in turn could lead to a poor market reputation and prevent possible customers from ever approaching the company for business. No one would like to deal with a company that comes across as foolish and inefficient.

Given that companies do a number of things that are annoying customers, it would make sense for them to ensure that they tighten processes, and apologize and fix swiftly, even the smallest of errors. An unfeigned apology usually helps to calm angry customers to some extent, allowing them to become more amenable to working with the company for a solution. Clear communication, customized responses, helpful and polite staff, and overall attention to service are any company’s tools to keep customers happy. Annoying customers is never a good idea, and the repercussions of doing so can be many and disastrous.

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Develop interactive decision trees for troubleshooting, cold calling scripts, medical appointments, or process automation. Enhance sales performance and customer retention across your call centers. Lower costs with customer self-service.

Interactive Decision Tree