Customer Service: Seven Ways to Lose Business

Everyone has experienced bad customer service at some time. Perhaps you've encountered a rude store clerk, a curt receptionist or an apathetic customer service representative. You could probably offer advice to these people on how to shape up their attitudes.

The situation takes on new meaning when it's your clients or customers that are being snubbed. And remember, every time a customer or client doesn't come back — and tells others about a bad experience — it could mean thousands of dollars that won't end up in your bank account.

Here are seven no-nos that encompass the most common reasons for lost business:

1. Rudeness. Your customers, in a very real sense, are the highest-ranking people you deal with. They need to treated that way.

2. Broken pledges. If you make a promise, follow through on it. Build a level of trust with your customers by living up to your word.

3. Arguments. The customer is always right...even if you know they're wrong. It's generally better to take the high road.

4. Indifference. If necessary, fake it. If you're having a bad day or couldn't give a hoot about your customers' problems, pretend like you do. By the end of the day, you may find you actually do care.

5. Impatience. If customers ask for help, go out of your way to make sure they're taken care of. Their requests shouldn't be seen interruptions.

6. Misinformation. One way to turn good customers into ex-customers is by giving the impression that you know an answer when you don't. If you don't know, tell them you'll find out.

7. Gloom and doom. People are turned off by a grumpy, negative attitude. On the other hand, friendliness encourages customers to come back for more and send their friends too. Telephone etiquette is especially important. The person answering the phone is usually the customer's first contact with your company. How callers are treated may determine how much business they will do with you.

Here are some telephone do's and don'ts:



While these no-nos and phone tips may seem obvious to most of us, we've all come across people who seem to have skipped out on Customer Service 101. Even the smallest impolite gestures — like not getting a "thank you" after a purchase — can turn customers off and cost your company hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

And don't forget the grapevine aspect. Customers may tell twice as many people about a bad experience as they do a good one. Add to that the fact that it costs as much as six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an old one and customer service will shoot to the top of your priority list.

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