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5 ways to lose a customer

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Want to lose a customer? Deliver a bad customer service experience. And it doesn’t really have to be that bad. Sure, if it’s flat out abysmal, you’ll definitely lose your customer. But sometimes it’s something less obvious, such as an attitude of indifference. So, let’s get specific. Here are five surefire ways to make your customers question their decision to do business with you:

  1. Don’t acknowledge the customer. Ever walk into a store and see employees standing around, paying attention to everyone except you, the customer? Years ago, I checked into a hotel. I walked up to the front desk with a heavy suitcase. The clerk was typing away on his computer. After about 30 seconds (which seemed like much longer), the clerk looked up and said, “I’ll be right with you.” About a minute or so later he looked up again and asked, “Are you here to check in?” I was nice, but I wanted to say “What do you think?”
  2. Don’t care about the customer. There’s an expression attributed to author John C. Maxwell: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” If there’s one important part of customer service, it’s caring—and the customer can tell when you do. Apathy kills the relationship, while true caring and concern for the customer trumps all.
  3. Don’t listen to the customer. Customers want to be heard and, equally as important, understood. It’s one thing to make an error on an invoice. It may irritate the customer a bit to have to call and spend time getting the problem resolved. But if you have a problem that is due to a breakdown in communication—well, that is the worst moment of misery you can have with your customer. She will think “I don’t like doing business with them. They just don’t listen to or understand me.”
  4. Don’t respond to the customer. It is so frustrating to leave a phone message, send an email or tweet a comment and get no response. A bad customer service situation gets exponentially worse when the company doesn’t respond to a complaint or problem.
  5. Don’t appreciate the customer. A fundamental need of most people is to feel appreciated. Customers want to be appreciated for spending their hard-earned money at your place of business. So say thank you! Send a quick note or an email to let customers know how much you appreciate them.

There are many ways to lose a customer. So keep your clients happy by avoiding these big customer-service mistakes.

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Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and best-selling author. For more information on Shep’s speaking presentations, call 314-692-2200, email [email protected] or go to


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