eCommerce Insiders

7 Bad Customer Experiences to Avoid

Offering superb products or services is a crucial aspect to running a successful e-commerce business with a superior reputation. However, there is more to establishing a successful brand than quality products.

Of all the numerous mistakes an e-commerce company doesn’t want to make, failure to provide excellent customer experiences is probably the utmost.

The customer service you provide can make or break a customer’s experience, tilting their future buying decisions away from your brand. You’ve heard that an unhappy customer is much more likely to share their negative experience than a satisfied customer is to publicize their positive experience—and in today’s digital age, poor customer experiences often spread to negative online reviews and outrage on social media.

So, how can you protect your valued consumers from enduring a negative customer experience? In addition to creating a memorable experience consisting of positive interactions, your company should concern itself with avoiding these all-too-common bad customer experiences.

1. Unreasonable Fine Print

One surefire way to upset a large percentage of your customers while destroying your brand’s credibility is to spring surprise fine print or hidden stipulations on unsuspecting consumers. In fact, hidden fees, hidden catches, and hidden anything spells out bad customer experience. It’s always better to be upfront and honest about your policies and offerings rather than constantly arguing with consumers who feel they’ve somehow been duped. If you must frequently defend your company against consumers who argue that your policies are misleading, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate whether these fine-print clauses are worth hanging on to or if they are causing more harm than good.

2. Frequent Miscommunication

There are other ways companies can miscommunicate with consumers than intentionally hiding unflattering policies. But regardless of the cause, if information is repeatedly getting lost in translation between your company and your consumers, it’s going to reflect poorly on your brand. Whether the issue is that your website lacks clear information or your customer service reps are misinformed, poor communication with your audience of purchasers is something you should work to avoid.

3. Establishing Unrealistic Expectations

Since the dawn of advertising, some companies have been guilty of overselling their value to potential customers. While it’s normal to highlight your best features and selling points, it’s not fair to inaccurately promote your products. Setting up unrealistic expectations of your product or service may result in a temporary boost in sales, but in long run you’re setting yourself up for failure and setting consumers up for disappointment. False advertising is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved: your brand message appears inauthentic, your company loses credibility, and your consumers feel like chumps.

4. Forgetting to Follow Up

Another aspect of a positive customer experience that shouldn’t be neglected is making each consumer feel like the most important client on your roster. One way to show you care is to always follow up on customer concerns or problems. This extra point of contact allows you to learn what your consumers appreciated or didn’t like about your services and can act as research to improve future customer experiences. If a consumer contacts you with a question but never receives an adequate answer or follow-up, your company appears disorganized and uncaring, while the consumer feels expendable and ignored. Forgetting to follow up discourages consumers from giving you further business, as they feel unappreciated.

5. Failure to Address Complaints

Certain forms of consumer complaints are, in theory, easy enough to ignore. Negative comments on social media, for instance, can simply be deleted. However, ignoring any feedback from a consumer, regardless of the medium, is simply bad business. Online complaints deserve the same attention as those delivered by email, phone, or in person. It’s especially important to respond to negative customer feedback because these are the issues that need to be addressed and resolved on an individual basis, as well as on a brand-wide basis. Addressing consumer feedback ensures you are actively reviewing any company policies that may need to be reconsidered.

6. Presenting an Inconsistent Identity

Does your company have a personality disorder? Hopefully not, but that’s the only acceptable excuse for failing to present a unified front to the public. Customers will form expectations regarding consumer experiences based on your branded image, which means time and resources should be invested to train employees to provide consistent levels of customer service. Remember that customers may interact with a number of different departments when solving an issue, including customer services reps, technical support, and management. Training all employees to portray a consistent branded identity that matches with your branding goals can help establish a sense of authenticity and reliability across the board.

7. Making it Difficult to Get in Touch

Creating obstacles that force consumers to exert extra effort of any sort is horrible customer service. Consumers want to get in touch with your company for a reason, likely because they have a burning question or concern, and making it difficult to contact you serves to increase their bad experience by making them even more confused or concerned. You can do your consumers a favour by making it as easy and clear as possible to locate accurate company contact information and encouraging concerned consumers to reach out. Invite emails, phone calls, and social media engagement with your customers to make it convenient for them to contact you via their preferred channel of communication.

Steve Deckert has been involved in the eCommerce community since 2007. In 2009 he helped to envision and develop Sweet Tooth. Steve has helped over 3,500 merchants reward over 15 million customers, improve their customer experience, develop their customer loyalty, and increase long term profitability. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, & Google Plus

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