Six Ways to Dissatisfy a Customer

It is less expensive to maintain a good customer relationship than to find a new customer. Thus, I’m constantly wondering why some businesses invest little effort in maintaining good relationships with existing customers, offer new customers better pricing than loyal ones, and spend lots of advertising dollars to acquire new customers. Perhaps, it is because they can get away with it. On the other hand, as small business owners who may have more competition, we cannot afford to needlessly dissatisfy customers. It may benefit us to read through these scenarios and think of some we have encountered as customers to be sure we aren’t needlessly dissatisfying our customer base.

Offer new customers better offers than loyal ones. Years ago, a major hotel chain offered 10,000 bonus points per night to relatively new customers, but did not extend the same offer to their most loyal and best customers. I’m told the chain’s most loyal customers complained and the hotel made the wise decision to give them points as well. The program cost the chain far more than expected. What was the chain thinking when they initiated this offer?

Don’t Offer Your Best Offer Up Front. I received a letter from my alternative energy supplier telling me my introductory rate was expiring and advising me to call for a new rate plan. I did call and was offered several plans, all of which were considerably more expensive than the original plan. I decided to cancel their service. When I called back to cancel their service, the representative I spoke with offered me a better plan than the first representative. I decided to stay with them for now, but they are “on probation” and my intent is to find a new provider once their “rescue” rate expires. Had they offered their better rate up front, they would have had an even more loyal customer.

Hide From Your Customers. I wanted to reach a person to renew my wireless telephone service. There were no directions for reaching a customer service representative via the voice response unit (VRU). I pressed random buttons for several minutes until the system referred me to a person. Ultimately, I reached an outstanding customer service representative who more than made up for the unpleasant experience. While I was more than satisfied with the service provided by this representative, I would not begin a new contract nor recommend this provider to others because it is difficult to reach customer service.

Provide Silly Suggestions. When my internet service was not working, I called my Internet Service Provider (ISP). While waiting in the queue for assistance, I listened to the recording say that I could receive better and faster service by going online!

Ignore Commitments. I’ve called the service number for corporations and the service representatives have agreed to do something for me, such as correct an overcharge, but they did not follow up or even enter the transaction into their system. Multiple calls were required. I continue to use the providers for low price products, but would not consider them for mission critical work.

Making it Difficult for the Customer to say “Good Work.” I recently called a restaurant and told the manager on duty that I had written favorable online comments about their restaurant and wanted to send him the URL via email. He would not provide me with an email address. I did find a customer service form for the restaurant chain and sent them a note offering to send them the same information. I received a note back that they had sent my information to the marketing department and they would get back to me if they were interested. They have not done so. This chain managed to dissatisfy an extremely satisfied customer through bad public relations and policies.

Are you sure your business is not guilty of any of the above?

1 I would like to thank Dr. Margarita Posada Cossuto for helpful comments.

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