“I never trust an executive who tends to pass the buck. Nor would I want to deal with him as a customer or a supplier”. – James Cash Penney
As someone who is running a business it is your prime responsibility to ensure that you don’t hurt your business by having unhappy customers. The quote above clarifies beyond doubt that customers will run away and never come back if you give them reason to distrust you or be frustrated by your products and customer service. However, the harsh truth also is that there will be times when customers get annoyed and frustrated with your company. The answer lies in not knowing about the things that make your customers unhappy and in turn hurt your business.
Developing and fostering healthy and courteous relationships with customers is an extremely vital and important part of growing and sustaining business success. Caring for customers and evolving personalized experiences is becoming increasingly crucial especially in this age of digitization and cut throat competition. With channels like social media and applications for the smart mobile devices, a customer who is unhappy can instantly share their experiences and express their dissatisfaction with their friends and associates. This can hurt your business to a large extent and sometimes irreparably. Unfortunately, customers who regularly receive satisfactory service rarely talk about this. They only spread a good word when they consistently receive outstanding customer service. So instead of wondering what can hurt your business, develop customer relationships that exude care, commitment and genuine interest in their ‘world’. Such relationships make customers scale up their efforts to spread good things about your company and in the competitive market of today, these prove to be invaluable.
Most companies now are realizing the importance of creating such a customer-centric culture that not only makes current customers profitable and loyal, but also attract other people towards your business. If your company is not one that understands the importance of grabbing every opportunity to impress its customers, you could well be doing things that hurt your business, possibly without realizing it. The starting point of this would be to understand that before attracting more customers, it is crucial to retain the ones you already have.
– Don’t hurt your business by ignoring customer comments, opinions and feedback – both positive and negative. Ensure that your company has dedicated human resources who will check back with customers when they leave comments. This lets customers know that they are being listened. Take action on the feedback to create better and more personalized experiences for customers.
– Irate customers are most definitely going to leave feedback. It will be scathing and seem like they have a personal agenda. This is however, not true and taking such comments personally will most certainly hurt your business. Instead of getting hurt, learn from the feedback and ensure that the problem never occurs again. Give the customer a patient hearing and let them vent – this helps to calm them and be more willing to listen to the solutions you have to offer.
– It will hurt your business if you are not careful while setting customer expectations. In your enthusiasm to close a deal or impress your customers, you could set expectations that are way beyond what your company can deliver. Ensure that the expectations are relevant and feasible for both you and your customers.
– The normal process for companies is acquiring new customers to expand business. There’s nothing wrong with that unless they are ignoring loyal and long-time customers in the process. Loyal customers can prove to be most profitable not just by providing repeat business, but also being enthusiastic brand advocates. Ignoring them could hurt your business in ways you never thought possible. If even one loyal customer leaves, it could start a tidal wave of dissatisfaction and your company could find itself stuck in a whirlwind of negativity and customer churn.
– Even though it is the age of automation and digitization, don’t hurt your business by automating customer service. Customers want to do business with people they like and trust and this happens by connecting to real people – they can’t form connections with automated voices and computer operated recordings.
– Everyone is busy driving their business to make it successful – that includes your customers too. True you need to know what customers are saying, what they feel about your company and how their needs have changed. These are still not reasons enough to send them boring, complicated and frequent surveys. They may reply once or twice, but post that they will ignore you and may be even stop providing business and this will hurt your business beyond doubt.
– You know your company has been doing a great job and may have even left your competitors behind. However, don’t hurt your business by ignoring these seemingly latent companies – they are constantly contacting your customers and trying to get their business. Keep an eye out for your competition so that you can nip in the bud any attempts to better your service or entice your customers away.
– Move beyond aiming to simply satisfy customers. Aim towards creating loyal customers who will not think of ever deflecting to competition and would also gain more customers for you. It would hurt your business to measure only customer satisfaction and be content with the results on this scale.
– Customers like to feel special and pampered and one of the best ways to do that is by remembering things that are special to them – like occasions, events and such. Congratulating or wishing them on these occasions, is a sure shot way of creating longer lasting and strong bonds with customers. Ignoring these important events has the potential to create dissatisfaction in customers and eventually would hurt your business.
– We said earlier on in this write-up that focusing only on acquiring new customers is a mistake. It is cheaper and simpler to retain customers – in fact studies reveal that it costs thousands of dollars, maybe even more, to acquire new customers. Why hurt your business so when lesser amount can be put to good use in retaining existing customers by providing them with stellar customer service.
– Many companies resort to offering heavy discounts in a bid to retain customers or entice more customers. Doing so repeatedly tells your customers that the product and or service is not really worth what they were paying previously or will be asked to pay in the future. De-valuing your offerings will most certainly hurt your business in the long run. What is worse – discounts don’t ensure customer loyalty. Customers just take advantage of the ‘discounted period’ and then move on to someone else offering better discounts. It would be better to provide value-added service by way of service guarantees or other such offerings that customers will see long-term value in.
Irrespective of what you do or what the customer does, your existing profitable and loyal customers are always right. Using this as a thumb rule will put your business on the path of success and sustainability. Show your customers kindness and continually repeat positive experiences to let them remain with you and bring more business to you. It doesn’t take much to remain appreciative of your customers but not taking time to say thank you or understanding their needs will most certainly hurt your business, and possibly irrevocably.