19 actions you may not realize are driving your customers away

Without realizing it, you, or those that work for your company, might be driving customers away. It doesn’t take much to lose a customer and sometimes subtle things you are doing (or not doing) might be driving your current customers to your competition. Competition in the market is fierce and you need to be doing everything you can to keep your customers coming back again and again. It may seem obvious, but you want your customers to want to do business with you without any struggle at all.

While you are hoping your customers love your offerings, you might be sending them signals, via your actions, and driving them away. Each transaction either gives you a chance to impress your customer or make them feel blah about the relationship; I can assure you, a relationship based on blah will not last very long. Two thumbs down.

There is a difference between a customer that has to do business with you and a customer that wants to do business with you. Your company must work hard to develop the ultimate customer, one who will go out of their way to give you their business. I can assure you, you want many of them on your customer list.

Check out the list below and see if you or your company are failing to make the grade, potentially driving customers away:

  1. Do you always have an option for your customer to speak to a “live” human being during normal business hours or are your customers getting stuck in automation or voicemail hell? Bonus points if you have an option to communicate with a real person, even after hours, via live chat or other social channels.
  2. Failing to return phone calls, emails or other forms of communication quickly. Just wrong. If you are not returning calls, emails or posts quickly, your business is failing to make the grade.
  3. Lacking product information or providing misinformation. With Google at their fingertips and the internet as a huge resource, customers are smarter today than ever. Your company needs to provide accurate information not just about your services, but about your competition as well. Educate your employees. If they don’t have all the answers, teach them how to find the answers.
  4. Giving advice that conflicts with something else they were told by your company. Everyone in your company who communicates with customers needs to be on the same page. A surefire way to confuse your customer is to provide conflicting advice.
  5. Don’t make your pricing so complicated your customer needs a degree in accounting to understand it. If your fee structure is a mystery or complicated, customers will not want to buy from you. Keep pricing simple.
  6. Do you offer several channels for customers to reach you? Email and phone should be a minimum. Do you offer a social media solution like Twitter or do you offer live chat as an option? If you don’t, your competition might.
  7. Blaming a problem on someone else in the company proves to your customers that your company is not built on teamwork. Your customer doesn't care who is to blame, they want a solution to their problem.
  8. Having a company policy that makes it challenging to do business with you. For example, do you require a large deposit for your services but fail to offer a payment plan or another option that will not cost your customer more money. Make it easy for your customer to do business with you. If a company policy makes it difficult to do business with your company, provide a solution or change the policy.
  9. If your product or service was not as described or did not meet customer expectations, your customer will not be back for more. Clearly define with your customer specific expectations. Do not only offer a "one size fits all" option when it comes to product performance.
  10. Too much information/spam from company. Once a customer gets on your list, do not bombard them with marketing blasts, upsell opportunities and special offers too often. If your company aggressively markets to your customer list, you may be turning off your customers.
  11. Making your customer wait. Customers hate waiting, and so do you. Do not delay in getting in front of your customer. If you are waiting on someone else to get back to you before you reach out to your customer, keep your customer in the loop as well. Many sales have been saved by a simple call, text or email stating, “I have not forgotten about you, I am researching the answer to your question. I will get back to you quickly.”
  12. Do not make it difficult to do business with your company. Credit applications, purchase orders, challenging financial terms or old school technology in a new tech world. Is there a way to help expedite these processes for your customers? We all hate red tape, and so does your customer. Make it easy to do business with you.
  13. "The only time they would communicate with me is when they needed money from me." While it is true that money drives our economy, relationships will drive your business. Reach out to customers about things other than money. Send links to their favorite vacation destination, restaurant or points of interest. Build a relationship before you build a sale.
  14. When a representative defends the company instead of the customer when a problem arises. A great rule to follow is this -- The customer is always right, but when they aren’t right, figure out how to make them right. Even when you win an argument with a customer, you will still lose because they will take their business to your competition.
  15. Unable to find the right person to solve a problem. It’s never an accounting problem, or a sales problem or a marketing problem. It’s your problem. Customers don’t care who “owns” the problem, they just want to have their problem solved.
  16. Use of company lingo. The customer wants you to speak english (or whatever language they speak). Every industry is filled with jargon and industry speak. Keep it simple for your customer and speak in a language they understand.
  17. Actually use the feedback the customer provides. If your customer provides feedback, make sure your are listening to what they are saying. If your company sends out feedback surveys or product reviews, use the results to improve your products and services.
  18. Hire the right people for the job. Please don’t put people within your organization that simply don’t care. Have the patience to hire the right people for the job, the strength to fire people that don’t represent your company properly and the smarts enough to know that you can train skill, but not personality and work ethic.
  19. Deliver the ultimate service. LOVE. If a company wants customers to love their products, the company needs to LOVE their customers. Customers that don’t feel the love might buy from you once, twice if you are lucky, but rarely will stay with your company if they don’t feel you care about them.

Hopefully, you are on the right track and receive passing grades on the list above. If you see a point or two above that needs improvement, take time to make the necessary adjustments to put your company on track to get an A+.

You work hard to build an amazing product or service, put the same or more energy into treating your customers right and keeping them out of the hands of your competition.

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