What Drives a Customer Away, Perhaps Forever?

We've learned a lot about what customer service and satisfaction are and a whole lot more about who our customers are and how to find out what they want from us, but now is the time to learn what our customers absolutely will not tolerate! We can even label these don'ts as the straws that break the customer's back.

The Ten Deadly Sins of Customer Service

1. I don't know. Customers expect you to know something about the services you provide. If you really don't know, say the magical words, "I'll find out." Then do just that…find out and get back to them.

2. I don't care. When your attitude, words or appearance indicate that you don't care about your customers, they react by wishing they had not made the decision to come to you for services. They feel that they made a really bad choice. Customers want you to care about serving them.

3. I can't be bothered. If your actions indicate that other things take precedence over your customers like personal phone calls, a conversation with a co-worker, etc., your customer is going to get annoyed. You can imagine what your customer feels like if you ignore his or her obvious attempt to get your attention.

4. I don't like you. Attitudes and behaviors (overt or covert) that indicate that a customer is a real annoyance are memorable to the customer but for all the wrong reasons. They remember not to come back!

5. I know it all. Being pushy and forcing customers into decisions is not the way to win a customer for life. It's a good way to win an enemy for life who will eagerly tell others not to come to your organization for service.

6. You don't know anything. Cutting off, putting down or demeaning your customers is a good way of slamming the door in their face. It simply encourages them to do business elsewhere.

7. We don't want your kind in here. Prejudices can show up in attitudes you may not even know you have. For example: Do you treat the elderly differently than you do your younger customers? Do you treat customers in suits and ties differently from those in T-shirts and tennis shoes? Remember that all customers deserve courtesy and respect.

8. Don't come back. Don't let your attitude and behavior tell your customer that you really don't care if they ever return to your organization. Thank customers often for their business and loyalty… it builds a life long relationship!

9. I'm right and you're wrong. Arguing with customers over a point of personal belief or pride is not going to win them over to your organization. Try giving them the benefit of the doubt.

10. Hurry up and wait. Customers do not want to waste their time either in waiting or in having to contact your organization repeatedly for errors in service. Do all you can do to respect their time constraints by doing things right the first time.

(Anderson and Zemke, Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service, p. 36)

Using the wrong words with the wrong intent and the wrong tone can add fire to any argument with a customer or start an argument so trust me…don't ever use the following words (this is a partial list).

Using the wrong words can anger your customers.

A customer is not someone to argue or match wits with. No one ever won an argument with a customer.