We are all customers at one point or another. Some of us have higher standards than others, yet there are general rules across the board that will have customers running away as though your business was the starting zone of the zombie apocalypse.
Here is a list of 6 mistakes that drive customers away, peppered with my own personal experience.
# 1 – Your Employees Don’t Engage the Customer
Not only do your employees not engage the customer, but they don’t say anything to them at all. In fact, they run down another aisle as if their customers are zombies wanting to eat them. They don’t even look at them in fear that the customer will follow them down the aisle.
Being blatantly ignored is one of the worst things a customer can experience. Ignoring someone is like communicating to them that they aren’t even worth looking at. It is a terrible feeling, and one that will drive your customers away.
# 2 – Your Employees Are Stressed When Dealing with the Customer
If they are short on time or people, employees may get stressed. When they get stressed, they typically come off as rude or frazzled, neither being a good image for your company. If this is a widespread problem among employees, guess whose fault it is? The business – the people making the decisions. It’s something that needs to be dealt with, because it affects the perception customers will have of your company.
With it being a few days before Christmas, I just experienced this at my favorite store. The employee was dealing with returns and her shift was ending in just a few minutes. Instead of taking over for her, they had her stay over on her shift until I came back with my exchange. She seemed stressed and frazzled, and I felt as though I were being rushed. In front of me, she snapped at her coworkers to take over her shift since she had to leave. To be fair to her, there were three guys looking at something random in the back. One of them easily could have covered for her. I had also overheard her say to another customer that they were short-staffed.
Please, treat your employees right. Staff your stores the way they should be staffed, because remember: it affects your image, which affects your sales.
# 3 – Treating your employees poorly
Give them good benefits. Give them a livable wage (so you can stop using your company’s labor unit to siphon off the government because they have to take out governmental assistance – yeah, that’s right. I called all of you out). Treat them right. Communicate with them. Apologize when you do something wrong. Give them time off and accommodations when they need it. Don’t treat them like a dehydrated work horse. All of these should be common sense, but it seems time and time again, companies choose the bottom line over the customer experience. It’s no wonder they eventually lose stock and sales and begin to lose out to competitors as their employees jump ship.
# 4 – Creating a toxic culture
If there is a culture in your store of harassment between coworkers or management, it is your responsibility as a business owner to nip it in the bud. Harassment causes lawsuits every year and a business can lose a lot of money for not protecting their employees from a toxic culture. Any company culture that is hostile to those of another race, gender, class, religion, or sexual orientation is one that will be plagued by such a huge host of problems, it’s impossible to list them all here in this blog post. It would have to be its own.
I have a different religion than the mainstream. I once had a manager at a fast food restaurant I worked at hold out a penny with a cross punched in it and said, “Here. I think you need this more than I do.” Then he laughed maliciously. I should have went to HR, but I was young and didn’t know my options.
# 5 – Going Back on Your Word
If you promise your employees something, follow through with it. There is nothing that will lower morale more than saying you’ll give them a bonus, or a holiday, or a vacation or day off, then telling them they can’t have it. This all goes back to how it affects the customer. There will be less passion there overall – less helpfulness – which will impact the customer experience.
# 6 – Creating Silos
There is no enemy greater to company communication than when there are silos. Departments which don’t communicate with other departments. Call centers not communicating with front line staff and vice versa. When there is a lack of communication due to silos, the customer experience will break down. The customer may have to repeat their situation over and over; they may have a mistake made on a purchase or account because the employee didn’t have the information necessary to perform their job. To break down silos, there needs to be a concerted effort to increase communication among departments, call centers, and front lines.
If you are not making these mistakes, then congratulations! It sounds like you may be on the road to a healthy company culture.
Have you ever had a poor customer experience? What was it like, and what should the company do differently?
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