Customer Experience News & Trends

15 things you should never do with customers

You’ve seen — and probably avoided — all the things you should never say to customers. Now it’s time to add to your “what to avoid” list some things you could do that would ruin the customer experience and likely kill the relationship.

Whether you’re a salesperson, account executive, marketing strategist, service representative or customer experience professional, you have and will have direct contact with customers. In public. In private. In social situations. In business meetings. At industry events.

That leaves a lot of venues and circumstances for a lot of things to go wrong. On the bright side, it’s a lot of opportunities for everything to go right and ensure a long, healthy client relationship.

Some are a matter of business etiquette that’s fallen by the wayside. Others are safety issues. All of them are important to customer relationships.

So here are the 15 things you never want to do with customers — and some positive alternatives:

1. Be late

89940422If you schedule a meeting with a customer, and are late, it makes you and your organization appear disorganized and unprofessional. It also suggests that you don’t respect the customer’s time.

The best way to avoid being late is to shoot to be early. Arrange meetings on the half-hour when possible and schedule yourself to be there on top of the hour.

2. Make excuses

When people are late for meetings, they tend to make excuses for their tardiness — “Traffic was worse than I expected” or “I was jammed up with another customer.” They sound like shallow lies to customers.

If you arrive late, admit to the real cause and move on: “I’m sorry I’m late. I didn’t plan properly. I hope you can still meet with me.”

3. Be unprepared

Some sales, service, marketing and customer experience pros have been in the business a long time and figure they can just “wing it” when they go into meetings with customers. Problem is, customers are savvy, and they’ll offer up questions and responses people don’t expect, which will get the meeting off track.

Instead, go in with a strong agenda and some flexibility so you’re sure to stay on track.

4. Insult the competition

It’s very tempting to say something negative about the competition when you see customers using their products or services and not yours. Pointing out the competition’s shortcomings suggests that customers made poor choices or aren’t smart.

Instead, when you and customers are in the presence of your competitors or their products, ask customers what they like about them — and learn how you can better fulfill their needs.

5. Look at your smartphone

80608334Smartphones sit on tables like another guest at meals these days. They buzz throughout meetings. They beckon people from one-on-one conversations. In essence, they interfere regularly with real-life, real-time, person-to-person relationships. And the interference is rude to customers.

Unless you plan on sharing with customers what you read, listen to or send on a smartphone, put it away while with customers. Read, text and call after meetings.

6. Alienate people

When you’re with customers, it’s not uncommon to meet up with other business professionals or customers you know. Yet, many people forget to make proper introductions and end up making someone feel like an outsider.

Right way: Start with the person of highest rank. For instance, “Dwayne, I’d like you to meet one of my colleagues Sammy. Sammy, this is Dwayne Roberts, the CEO at Winchester.”

7. Skydive

453075669We know, that sounds a little far-fetched. And for many businesses and client relationships it is. But some sales professionals and their leaders want to impress customers with the “next best thing” and possibly provide those customers with experiences they may not have otherwise.

They might plan race car driving experiences, parasailing, jet skiing, off-road motorbiking and even, yes, skydiving.

While they’re all supposedly safe and thrilling activities, they likely require participants to sign waivers – meaning they do pose risks to life and limb.

Play it safe. Organize events and activities with customers that don’t threaten their safety. Perhaps you can spend some time swapping stories and laughing about the crazier things you did in your younger years.

8. Complain or gossip

Seeing customers who often interact with colleagues, competitors and industry insiders you also know can open a can of worms that should be left alone. You might be tempted to jump in on — or worse, start some — complaints or gossip about common connections.

Instead, stay focused on business. Change the subject to something positive around you — a photo from a vacation, a new product in use, an addition to your facility, etc.

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