Five guaranteed ways to lose your customers
Remember the story I told you in my last post? I wanted to rebook a holiday home and ran into one problem after another. In the past few days, I noticed that many customer service teams I engaged with behaved similarly. There is one thing they all had in common: they are small companies who need the business.
I took one situation in particular and want to dissect it a bit: Back in mid-January, my partner and I decided to lease a small car. We got a great offer, and since we rented cars frequently, we would save money in the long-term. Long story short: we signed the contracts, and delivery should take place at the beginning of March. What we did not see coming was COVID-19.
1) Say nothing
March went by, and we heard nothing from the dealership. We knew that factories were closed and deliveries were not possible at the moment. But we expected a quick note from the shop. "Hey, sorry guys, we know you have been waiting for your car, but there are some unexpected delays. We will keep you updated about the new delivery date." would have been perfectly fine for us.
Instead, we heard nothing. I sent one email mid-April, asking for an estimation. The reply was one line:
"COVID-19 happened. You'll hear from us when the car is here."
Fast forward to June. The car still hasn't arrived. We had no communication since then. I called them last week, and surprisingly they even had a delivery date for us. Yet, we never heard about it.
Please don't be silent. There is nothing worse for your customers. If you have information — even if it's terrible news — share it. They will appreciate it.
2) Make decisions for your customers
When I was on the phone with the salesperson, I asked them why they didn't tell us. Their answer: "Well, we thought it's best to keep expectations low and then surprise you when the car is here. Other customers like that."
Yes. Other customers might like that, but those other customers are usually above 40 and live near the dealership. We are in our mid-twenties and will travel quite a bit to pick up the car — which the salesperson knows. For us, it is not just a 10-minute trip. We need to plan the registration of the vehicle, how we get to the dealership and many other things.
So please, stop making decisions for your customers. As a millennial, I want to be in charge. I want to have transparency in the process and know what my options are.
3) Be slow
Here is another situation that happened to me last week. I had a problem with a tool I use for this blog. I won't call names, but I generally expected fast and reliable service. On the tool's website, I saw that they offer a live chat. Great! That usually means fast.
Oh boy, was I wrong. The chat tool showed an average response time: 4 minutes — enough time to get some coffee. I came back, checked the chat, and saw...nothing. I waited and waited. Twenty minutes, thirty minutes, forty minutes. Finally, after forty-five minutes, I got a reply.
While it is obvious for most of you: Don't be slow! The channel doesn't matter. Zendesk offers an excellent benchmark report where you can check what people expect from your industry. Beat that! Always be better than the average and surprise your customers (not like the car dealership above, though).
4) Use (obvious) templates
So, after waiting for forty-five minutes, I was excited to read the reply in my chat. Since my issue was straightforward, I just expected a "Great, thanks for letting us know, I will pass this on to our technical team and will get back to you".
Instead, I got this:
"Hey Jannis, thank you for reaching out today. My name is XXX. How may I assist you today?"
Come on. I just sent that to you. There is a long message above that explains the problem. But hey, let's repeat all of this.
After copying the message, I already sent, I got this back — within 5 seconds:
"Thank you, Jannis. We will be looking into this shortly and hope to find a solution for you. Meanwhile, feel free to check out our helpful FAQs here. You will be able to find answers to frequently asked questions there: [link removed]"
Do you see how frustrating this is? I bet you do.
Long story short: even if you use templates, make them personal. People know when they get canned responses, and it sucks. It makes the conversation feel like it's not a conversation. Templates aren't necessarily wrong. They just need to be well-written.
5) Ignore feedback
The chat conversation went on for a long time, even though it was a straightforward issue to resolve, in my eyes. I received one canned response after another. At one point, I had to wait for 2 hours on a reply — in a live (!!) chat. My instinct was to give some feedback in the end. It was very friendly, and I just wanted to point out how that conversation looked from the other side. The message was ignored. I received no response on that.
The next day, the issue still hasn't been fixed, so I went back to the live chat. The chat window showed that my feedback from the day before was read. My message that day was the following: "Hey XXX. I just wanted to follow up on our conversation yesterday. I can see that XYZ is still not fixed and wanted to know when I can plan on using it again?"
Guess what happened. Exactly. The whole drama started from the beginning — canned responses, 40-minute waiting times, more templates, and no personal touch at all.
If your customer is kind enough to leave feedback, don't ignore it! Feedback is always a gift. ALWAYS. It might be uncomfortable. It might be harsh. But it is a gift. If you receive constructive feedback from your customers, see it as a chance to improve your services. Don't ignore it - especially if the same customer reaches out again 😉