How Are You Annoying Your Customers? And what to do about it (and get great reviews)

Is it possible that your business is annoying your customers? It is possible. This week I’ll share with you some of the common things that businesses do to annoy people and drive their customer’s away and what to do about it.

I had two really interesting retail purchase experiences recently, and one was good and one was actually quite frustrating. The frustrating one occurred at a global flat pack furniture retailer who will remain nameless, but I think you probably know who I mean and the other was at a local delicatessen.

At the flat pack giant I’ve got all my heavy boxes on my cart and I see the lineup for where the single cashier is. And it’s a huge lineup. And my other option is self-checkout, which had a good lineup, but I go to self-checkout and I’m trying to navigate the screens. They’re unintuitive. Trying to find where the barcodes are on the boxes, where they’re all in different spots. Messages were popping up on the screen and things were beeping and telling me I’m doing it wrong. And the attendant’s getting called over.

It was just this frustrating experience. And I’d like to think I’m somewhat technically adept, but maybe I’m just not very good at self-checkout. But maybe a lot of people aren’t very good at self-checkout. Maybe that’s the point: that they’ve downloaded that work to the customer and it’s created an inconvenient experience and a bit of frustration for me.

Now, the next experience at the delicatessen was really, really good. My wife and I were there doing some shopping, and we’re just talking amongst ourselves about a particular cut of meat we were looking for, and somebody, a staff member came over and said, “Oh, are you looking for such and such?” We said, yes. They said, “Follow me.” They took us right over to where it was and showed us a couple of similar cuts that were options as well that we might want to think about, and I thought that was great service.

Often in a retail environment, if you ask somebody for help, they say, “Oh, it’s on aisle three,” but this person actually took us over without even being asked. Now either they’re just that conscientious or kind, or maybe they just have really good training to listen if a customer is having trouble finding something. Now this wasn’t a customer service person, it was a stock person. They’re putting things on the shelf. So that was a great experience. I think the smaller retailer really cares about their customer, and I go back there all the time. I’m a loyal customer of that place.

So it got me thinking, we had a negative experience and a really positive experience within the span of an hour, and I got to thinking about what are some of the things that business owners do to frustrate their customers?

Well, for me, clearly self-checkout is one of them.

What about voicemail? What about voicemail jail? I know we all need to have voicemail, but can we not make it easier just to press a button and get somebody? Most times I’m calling to either purchase something or to get an issue resolved. I want to talk to a person to get that resolved. I don’t want to have to press 15 buttons, wait on hold and then being promoted to while I’m feeling frustrated in the voicemail, and they’re trying to get me to buy another product or service, while I just want to wring somebody’s neck.

And then what about surveys? Have you ever filled out a survey and thought, well, I’m trying to be helpful for this company. Maybe they’ll do something about it. And maybe you file a complaint with a company, not to be negative, but to say, “Hey, you guys could do this better,” and then nothing changes. I find that really frustrating. If I filled a survey, I want them to do something about it. I want them to actually enable some kind of improvement for me.

Mystery shopping. Mystery shopping is often to ensure compliance that staff are following policy and procedure. But who says the policy and procedure is actually any good? What about mystery shopping from the perspective of what is it like to buy from your business? Might that be a better way to do it? To understand the customer journey and what hoops they have to jump through and what experiences they go through when they’re trying to give you their hard-earned dollars.

So these are just a couple of areas that we could probably improve. And remember, most customers leave a business owner due to perceived indifference. They think you don’t care, and you might, but maybe they think you don’t because your actions are kind of telling them that you’re distracted, you’re not listening to them, and listening to your customers is probably one of the most important things that you can do. They’ll tell you how to improve your business. You don’t have to wonder, just listen to your customer. Actually ask them proactively and do something about it and let them know you’ve done something about it. That’ll help engender loyalty because guess what?

We all have competition, and if your competition is doing a better job listening to their customer, they’re going to get your customer as well. So that’s it for this week. Have a look at your business and find out what are some of the things that you might be frustrating your customers by putting them through, and what can you do to change it?

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