How to Lose a Customer in 10 Days


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Businesses are – knowingly or unknowingly – sabotaging their customer relationships. Customers don’t want to put up with it anymore – and they make sure their friends hear about it.

After the popular post I wrote titled 19 Signs Customers Are Just Not That Into You, which sounded an awful lot like the romantic comedy, He’s Just Not That Into You, I was inspired by the title of another rom-com, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, for today’s post.

When we engage with customers (or, when they engage with us), we are (hopefully) engaging for the long-term, developing a relationship. Some folks question the use of the term “relationship,” but let’s just use Merriam-Webster’s definition: the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other; the way in which two or more people or things are connected.

That connection is what I’m referring to. We want to connect with our customers, not just transact with them. Relationships take time and work, every day; the focus and the desire to keep the relationship alive and strong should never stop because, when it does, the relationship will end. The connection is gone.

My 19 Signs post was more about how customers were not showing their love to brands anymore. In this post, the focus is on companies and the things they are knowingly or unknowingly doing to sabotage their customer relationships..

Let’s get started. What do companies do?

They have roving eyes. They’re always looking for the next best thing. Once they have the customer, they move on to finding the next one. Their first priority is acquisition, not retention. What they have isn’t good enough.

They don’t answer the phone or emails. Customer service is a major painpoint. Wait time to talk to a customer service representative or to get a response to an email inquiry is painfully long, if they  answer at all.

They don’t listen. Or act – on customer feedback. Enough said.

They don’t try to really get to know their customers. They think they know best. They do what they do and sell what they sell without regard for who the customer is and what he’s trying to do.

Their focus is misplaced. They focus on sales/metrics and not on customers. Customers can tell when they’re not the  priority.

They keep pushing their wants, needs, preferences on customers. It’s never the other way around. The relationship should be a two-way street.

They argue over little things. Don’t argue with customers. Make it right and move on.

After the first date/interaction, they text immediately and incessantly. Just because customers make a purchase or call or visit your website doesn’t necessarily mean that companies can immediately flood their inboxes and mailboxes with endless emails and catalogs.

They’re too clingy. See above. And don’t be a stalker.

They play games. Bait and switch should never be a brand’s approach to marketing or selling.

They say they’ll call back but don’t.

They ignore the little things that are important to their significant other, er, customer. Always remember the little things.

They stop showing – or don’t show – appreciation.

It’s all about me, me, me. Marketing messages are all about the company rather than about what the company can do for customers, what the company does for the community, how customers will benefit from using their products, or how they can help customers do whatever it is they are trying to do.

They’re rude and disrespectful. Hire for attitude; train for skill. 

They don’t apologize for their mistakes or major incidents. A delayed non-apology does not have the same impact as a swift, sincere apology that makes amends.

They have nothing of interest to say; interests are misaligned. When messages (and the experience) aren’t personalized to the customer, customers lose interest.

Their hygiene has slipped. Are employees and facilities (store, restaurant, restroom, etc.) clean?

They ignore customers. They haven’t trained their employees to acknowledge customers in their periphery.

They don’t remember details they’ve already been told. They keep asking for the same information over and over again.

Their actions don’t match their words (and vice versa). Have you ever heard, “Your call is important to us…” in the 20th minute of your hold time?

They ask for things they’ve never asked for before. With no explanation, rhyme, or reason. O dear. It can feel a bit creepy.

They just don’t care. Organizations that are not customer-focused and customer-centric lose customers. It might not happen right away, but it will happen.

Several of these items alone could kill the customer relationship; certainly all of them combined are a disaster! You may not lose a customer in 10 days, but if you’re not customer-focused – and customer-centric – and haven’t clearly come to terms with what that means, you will lose them eventually. And they will tell their friends. And no one will want to date you, er, buy from you.

You can’t lose what you never had, you can’t keep what’s not yours, and you can’t hold on to something that does not want to stay. – Unknown.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


  1. These are all important; and, often in companies that are naive about customer-centricity, the challenges come in wave after wave, and in bunches and groups. For online customers, 10 days might be extending the relationship – – it can be ended with one click. I’d also suggest that, strategically, the value proposition is over-promised and under-delivered. The name of the value delivery promise should be over-promise and over-deliver:

  2. Thank you, Michael. Good point about the value proposition. Thanks for adding a link to more details on that.

    Annette 🙂


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