Corner Post: How to Frustrate Your Customers This Holiday Season

frustrated woman imageCustomers can make or break your business. A frustrated customer can have very negative effects on your reputation and your bottom line. Making sure some key operations and policies are put in place well before the busy holiday season may just save you heartache and money. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Automated Phones: Being in the Internet world, one of the most frustrating things is dealing with websites that don’t answer the questions that customers have. Sometimes it’s just easier to pick up the phone and have a conversation with a product expert. Even having a pop-up chat window is better than preventing a customer from communicating with a live person. I know when I am on the phone holding and waiting to speak with a live voice I typically lose my patience or my phone battery dies. Talking to a human being is not dead, it’s an excellent method for creating loyal customers.
Taking Care of Complaints: Listen to the customer’s complaint, let them get it off their chest and then deal with a solution that is a win-win. Always use the term, “I understand your frustration, let me review what our store policy is,” when confronted with this challenge. Sometimes you can convert the complaining customer into a loyal customer by simply looking for a reasonable solution. Always take the high ground and don’t get personal.
Structure & Protocols: Look at ways to make the buying or returning process easy without forcing the customer to jump through hoops. Retailers can be quick to give money back to the customer when the customer still has a need to be filled.
Good customer service is not returning the money, it’s asking questions about the customer’s needs and making product recommendations.
Policies: As a follow-up to Structure & Protocols, make sure that your customers understand your policies. Take the time to review the small print, make these policies as simple as possible. Don’t display negative signs around the store, this can create a negative customer attitude thereby giving the customer a reason to not shop in your store.
Advertised Products: Not carrying the products you advertise or market in your various marketing channels (social media, website or traditional advertising) is a sure way of losing customer loyalty. If you don’t fulfill the customers’ needs they most likely will not return. Don’t play the bait-and switch game, simply put; don’t advertise what you don’t have.
Customer Service Training: You want your employees to treat your customers as if they are the owners. Empowerment without giving away the store is a good way for employee buy-in.
Customer service training is worth its weight in gold!