How hard do you make your customers work to buy something from you?
Friday, October 23, 2020
You’ve invested time, energy, and significant money to establish your business and promote it to the public in an effort to sell your goods and services. All you need now are customers.
But at this point, how hard do you make these potential customers work to buy your products and services? By your actions and oversights, are you effectively telling your prospective customers that you don’t really want their business? By making it hard to do business with you, are you making it easy for them to do business with someone else?
I’ve encountered business owners who virtually tell customers to “go away; I don’t want your business,” and then are surprised when customers do exactly that.
Many years ago, a local business owner advertised a mega-sale on hot tubs. I was interested and high-tailed to the store to see if there was a model that could fit my budget. The owner hurried over to me to ask which model I wanted to buy. I said I didn’t know, but without further ado, he yelled at me to leave his store if I wasn’t going to buy anything or he’d call the police to escort me out! Stunned by this bizarre encounter, I quickly left, never to return. I was not surprised when I saw the “Going Out of Business” sign erected a few months later.
Maybe that’s an extreme example, but how many seemingly trivial things do you do to discourage customers? Do you construct so many barriers to sales that their patience is exhausted, and they decide to shop elsewhere? Here are some real-life examples:
No posted store hours on your storefront or on your website. Leave your would-be customers guessing when you might be open. After all, they won’t mind returning again and again to a locked, closed store.
Better yet: post operating hours on your storefront and online presence that have no semblance to reality. Open and close when you feel like it—surprise!—no notice, no excuse, no apology, just a shrug of the shoulders when shoppers tell you that they’ve stopped by at all hours to find a closed store.
Do not answer the telephone if a prospect calls with inquiries. Especially make sure you have no voicemail so the phone just ring and rings. Your customers will get a chuckle out of guessing whether you’ve retired, died, or gone out of business.
Set up voicemail on your business, but never check it so that customers get an automated message, “This voice mailbox is full and cannot accept messages.” Do not return the phone messages your customers have successfully left, which allows you to ignore would-be customers, too. Saves you from having to deal with pesky prospective customers.
Do not acknowledge or otherwise reply to emails that customers have left you, inquiring about availability of products or services. Surely the customer is smart enough to realize that if you never reply, the answer must be “no,” duh. If the same person emails you several times asking for a reply or acknowledgement, obviously that customer is not bright enough to interpret your silence and therefore, not worthy of being your customer.
Pretend you want to hear from your customers by setting up an inquiry form on your website instead of giving an actual email address. That will relieve you of any accountability for an obligatory response; you can feign innocence that the inquiry was never received should the customer actually catch you and angrily tell you that they’ve submitted the inquiry form repeatedly with no reply.
Be sure to rigidly adhere to your meal or break times. If your lunch starts in seven minutes, refuse to sell a piece of fruit to a customer since this simple transaction might delay your break.
Lie about something being broken when the truth is you’re feeling too lazy to deal with it. Ask the customer to return another day; your energy is more important than your customer’s convenience.
Refuse to give your customers appointments, saying that walk-in service is preferred. And then when they show up, tell them to return four hours later because you’re too busy.
Indicate on your website that wire transfers are accepted as payment, give them a receipt for payment in full, but two months later, when they’ve called repeatedly to ask why the product hasn’t been delivered, casually let them know that, “oh by the way, I forgot to tell you that the bank charged us a wire fee and you need to pay more money before we will deliver the product.” They’ll totally understand and cough up the surprise, additional fees. Your customer will thank you for a good laugh.
Before you shake your head in disbelief, these really are true examples. These actions all indicate that customers are a low priority for the owners. Customers can choose where to spend their money. When you make it too hard to spend their money with your company, they will avail themselves of your competitors.
Take a good look at your own practices and policies. Have you turned away any prospective customers by cavalier indifference and unprofessionalism?
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