Customer Experience News & Trends

9 stupid ways to lose credibility with customers

Customers never forget the stupid things you do. So here are the most common — and avoidable — things that hurt the customer experience.

One of the biggest problems with these credibility killers is that just about anyone in an organization can commit them — and worse, they may not even realize it.

Service pros may say the wrong thing while troubleshooting a problem. Salespeople may make a bad move during a prospecting call. A marketer may put up a social media post with an offbeat, offensive tone. A delivery person may unwittingly give a vibe of indifference.

All of the following missteps only take a moment, but each can stick in customers’ memories like flies on a glue strip.

“If you want to build genuine, lasting success … you need to be someone whom others can trust,” said Julie Miller, co-author of Culture Without Authority – WTf? (What’s the Fix?) Anytime you give another person a reason to question your honesty, your dependability, your intentions or your values, you’ll incur consequences.”

Those consequences could mean lost relationships and business when you work with customers.

“The good news is, most ‘accountability killers’ — as well as their ramifications — are preventable if you’re willing to look closely and honestly at your own behaviors,” Miller said.

Here’s what you want to avoid:

1. Lateness

There are just a few good reasons for being late — illness, accident, lightning strike — and hundreds of bad reasons. You don’t ever want to give customers any of those bad reasons.

When you’re late, “In effect, what you’re saying is, ‘I don’t value your time,’ I believe I’m more important than you,'” Miller said.

Instead, set deadlines with extra time built in for setbacks. And it’s almost always OK to be early.

2. Failing to do what you promised

This is an all-encompassing mistake. Nearly everyone in an organization makes promises to customers –“I’ll get that right out to you,” “Someone will call back this afternoon,” or “I will transfer you to someone who can help” — that they don’t see through. Most of the time, it’s not an intentional failure. It’s usually because someone got sidetracked, and that screams, “We don’t care!” to customers.

There are two fixes: Get organized and push yourself to fulfill promises or stop making promises you can’t keep. No matter which you choose, customers win.

3. Taking criticism too personally

If you fail to meet deadlines, attend meetings and fulfill promises, you can anticipate that some customers will call you out on it. It’s criticism, and it’s justified. But when we’re called to the mat, our instinct usually puts us in a defensive mode. So we bite back, and end up upsetting customers more.

Instead, accept criticism from customers as a valid observation, Miller suggested. If you take the criticism, promise to do better and deliver on that promise, customers will likely give you another chance.

4. Covering up mistakes

100925793In the business world, it’s acceptable to make minor mistakes that affect customers. Most people accept that they’re dealing with other people who aren’t perfect. And they almost always understand that technology can fail.

The grave danger in experiencing errors is trying to cover them up so customers don’t notice. Truth is, they will almost always notice. A cover-up — from telling a customer you never received an email when you actually just deleted it, to hiding an injury-causing product defect — tells customers you or your organization are dishonest. That’s the worst offense ever.

Instead, be transparent. The sooner you tell customers about mistakes, the more likely you’ll retain them through the full fallout.

5. Bringing others in on a cover-up

A mistake is bad. A cover-up is worse. Asking someone — especially a customer — to join in the cover-up is the worst. It hurts relationships, credibility and business.

It might sound like this: “I forgot to add that custom request to your order so it won’t look like you expected. If I fudge the email, we can make it look like it was a fulfillment oversight, and we won’t have to charge you for the upgrade. Just don’t tell my boss, OK?” Now the customer is part of a cover-up.

Don’t shirk responsibility and don’t ask others to be part of any avoidance of fallout over a mistake.

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