Earlier this year, I shared my thoughts on how a company (or individual) can disappoint customers in two easy steps. Those steps were, in a nutshell, “Don’t care enough about the customer to do anything” and “only care enough to do the bare minimum.” Well today, I’m going to make things even easier for you folks who are trying to find new ways to lose business.
It’s a ONE-STEP process that is so easy, anyone can do it. It’s called…
“Don’t be an idiot”
Shall we begin with an example? Yes, let’s. Last week, I had to search for an extermination business. We live in a 100-year-old house, and although I really don’t mind spiders, we’re getting overrun with them this year. Really, I like spiders; they eat all the bugs I hate. But when you hang up a denim jacket in the laundry room and within a week there’s a spider nest inside – well, that’s a problem.
So I went online to find a local exterminator. I found 3 or 4 who I called and talked with – but one website took me by surprise. CLICK HERE to see what I found.
As far as I can tell, there isn’t any actual business called “Absolute Exterminator.” At least, not an actual exterminator. This website appears to be designed to list local exterminators, even though the average consumer wouldn’t know that at first glance. The thing that really annoys me about these folks is the way they use web-browsing cookies (I assume) to know where I live, so they cut-and-paste a tailor-made home page for me.
With ridiculous lines like, “New Hampshire insects can damage your Merrimack County home” and “The 3,005 people of Warner know there are some annoying bugs in New Hampshire,” it was pretty obvious to me that the website simply plugged my location information into their premade webpage and hoped I would be impressed enough to learn more.
On the contrary, I was utterly UNimpressed, and had learned enough just reading that one page.
“Don’t be an idiot” – while driving
A second example is something I see – and you probably see – far too often.
Inconsiderate drivers cut you off. They run stop signs, merge into your lane with no warning, and honk their horns at you because they think they own the road. Happens all the time, right?
Well, if you’re driving a company vehicle, it should NEVER HAPPEN. I used to work for a number of radio stations, and whenever I drove one of the station vans, I always made sure my driving was impeccable. I always used my directional, never cut people off, always drove the speed limit. And if some moron did something stupid, I would never beep at him or make rude gestures…I just sucked it up and kept driving.
Yet, I am amazed at the number of rude, selfish drivers using company vehicles. Nary a week goes by where I don’t find myself being cut off by some dude from Rusty Rim Hole Plumbing, or being angrily honked at by a very impatient driver for Stubby’s Towing Service. What do they think happens when they tick someone like me off?
It certainly won’t be to patronize their business anytime soon. More likely, they’ll get written about in my blog – and NOT in a happy, gumdrops and lollipops kind of way.
Either people like this don’t care what other drivers think, because they’re just employees and don’t have any vested interest in doing what’s right…or they’re simply idiots.
“Don’t be an idiot” – so just don’t open your mouth
A third terrific way to get customers miffed at you is to say insulting things without even realizing it.
My wife and I were at a large department store earlier today (I won’t say which one because I wouldn’t want the store to be ‘targeted’), and as we were going through the checkout one of the employees stopped by and started talking to our very chatty 1-year-old baby girl, Phoebe. All was well and good, until the employee said…
“I see a sweet little girl who loves her grandpa!”
I bit my lip, because I knew that what was about to come out of my mouth was inappropriate in the check-out line. When we left the store, my wife tried to reassure me I really didn’t look that old…but this employee had just ruined my morning.
Seriously, who says that?? Isn’t that one of those things you never say to people? Isn’t that like going up to a woman with a belly and asking how the pregnancy’s going??
Now, I realize that plenty of people my age (47) have young grandkids, so it’s not like I was offended because of that. But the fact is, I was there WITH MY WIFE – who is not only 7 years younger than me, but looks like she’s at least 5 years younger than that. So this employee did one of two things:
She either a) thought my wife was a grandparent, as well (which, if you’ve ever seen my wife, you’d know is highly doubtful), or b) she thought I was there with my daughter and HER daughter! I’m sorry, but at 47, I’m pretty sure I don’t look like the father of a 35-year-old. And it’s not that I’m vain – but I already know that I look older than I am, so this employee underscoring that fact for me was totally unnecessary.
Making the world a happier place
But sneaky, rude, or stupid behavior is so rampant these days, it’s hard to leave it behind; chances are, something new and insulting will just pop up the next day.
I try to be understanding, though. Human beings are fallible, and we all make mistakes now and then. Often, the person doing the offending doesn’t realize it, or perhaps is having a bad day, or is preoccupied with their workload, or has stressful issues on their mind.
Then again, some people are just idiots.
Please don’t be one.
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