Sales & Marketing

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How to lose customers and irritate people

4 Mins

How do you define ‘despair’? For me, it is summed up as ten minutes into a phone call to sort out my broadband, listening to yet another recorded message telling me how important my custom is, interspersed with bland but inexplicably very loud pop music.

So as I hummed along to One Direction – I decided to direct my black thoughts to the dark and dodgy business practices that never fail to wind me up. The result below is a summary of my very worst pet hates and frustrations.

For me, the examples below sum up exactly how not to run a business. Entrepreneurs everywhere, if you don’t want to lose customers and alienate people please, please don’t get involved in any of the nonsense below.

This is my wake-up call for bad businesses everywhere. My one man charter to try and clean up some of the worst, underhand and sly practices that I come across every day and drive me (and no doubt thousands of others) mad.

Stamp out sly selling 

I hate it when I get a sales confirmation only to see that something I didn’t want, or didn’t explicitly order, has been added to my bill. 

The worst case I have come across recently was from an event tickets website, who automatically slapped a ‘refund protection’ charge of £2 for every theatre ticket I bought. If I want ‘protection’, or anything else for that matter, let me choose it of my own free will.

What a short-sighted ploy. They won’t be seeing my custom again in a hurry.

Booking fees suddenly being added at the last minute, pages of services to wade through and boxes to un-tick before you get to the online checkout, make me wonder if I can be bothered to complete the purchase (and I certainly won’t be bothered to go through the hassle next time).

Remember the human touch

How many days of our lives have been lost on the phone trying to speak to somebody, anybody, about a customer service problem? Or following up on another unanswered email?

And the problem is not confined to the home. Oyster travel cards are brilliant when they work, but have you ever tried to get a refund when the technology goes a bit awry? Don’t bother. Most tube ticket offices operate such a skeleton service these days the chance to actually talk to someone and get your money back easily is long dead and buried. I was forced to phone a number – and back to waiting on the phone in the forlorn hope of actually speaking to someone.

Leave it out

Some companies make it very hard for you to leave them behind and take your business elsewhere.

Have you ever tried to leave Amazon’s Love Film? You seemingly have to endure a ten-minute spiel from an Indian call centre – and some say the script is an incomprehensible as some Bollywood movies.

And just try and unsubscribe from some email lists….some businesses make it Mission Impossible.

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