We read so much about how to offer the best customer service, but it can be fun to look at the other side of the coin: What are some of the worst things a business can do to its customers?
Much like a car wreck, it’s difficult to tear our eyes away from a business that seems intent on antagonizing the people it’s supposed to serve. Here are some examples of how to make your customers angry.
1. Blame your customers
In May, the world was mesmerized by the saga of Amy’s Baking Company, a restaurant in Arizona that became notorious for refusing to listen to any form of criticism. The owners of the restaurant went so far as to blame their customers for not knowing good food, and lashing out at negative feedback over social media. Amy’s Baking Company incensed customers by trying to turn complaints around on them, instead of accepting responsibility for its mistakes.
2. Give them the silent treatment
Flight delays are always inconvenient, but airlines can make things even worse when they leave passengers in the dark about what’s (not) happening. Few things make the customers of any business more angry than not being kept in the loop when a problem occurs, and not being told about corrective measures being taken.
3. Do just enough
When a business makes a mistake, it needs to rectify it as soon as possible. If the business does only the bare minimum in making it up to customers, that can further damage brand reputation and loyalty. When customers are inconvenienced, they need increased incentive to stick with the company. Merely paying them lip service will send them packing to a competitor, or worse, an attorney.
4. Belittle their concerns
Customers want to know that if they have a problem with service, you’ll respond swiftly and professionally. If you want to antagonize them, do the opposite: ignore their phone calls and e-mails, or tell them that they’re exaggerating the problem and they’re more than welcome to take their business elsewhere. That kind of callousness will never be forgotten.
5. Treat customers like crowds
Customers know there are hundreds or thousands of others like them, but they like to be treated as individuals when they need help. There’s nothing more frustrating than to be treated as nothing more than one of the crowd, instead of a unique entity with personal needs. Companies who fail to understand their customers often make this mistake.
6. Don’t plan for problems
Things go wrong; that’s an inevitable part of conducting business. But if you really want to infuriate your customers, make sure you don’t have any kind of emergency plans in place. No customer in the world likes to see your staff running around like scared farm animals, especially when the problem affects them personally and they’d like you to fix it.
Segmentation, understanding, and outreach
There are a number of simple ways to not get on the bad side of your customers, and one of the most effective is taking the time to understand your audience. You can do this by conducting what is known as audience segmentation: separate the different categories that define the members of your audience, based on their age, gender, earning bracket, length of business, and whatever other metrics make them important to you.
Once you are able to compartmentalize your audience, you can communicate with them more effectively than if you try to serve all their needs together. Customers will appreciate you taking the extra step to make your services available on a more detailed and personal level.