How to Alienate Clients and Harm Customer Service


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We are in a service-based economy and it is always surprising to see the lack of savvy of certain vendors. These are not the times to avoid the most precious asset to any business. After all, the purpose for being in business is the acquisition and retention of customers.

It is fairly ironic that in numerous conversations, organizations typically have a similar excuse for not being attentive to customer service – 1) lack of time, 2) lack of focus, and three 3) a lack of knowledge. However, dismissing the issue only brings about revenue concerns. Boosting attention towards customers actually leads to less labor and higher productivity even in the smallest of organizations.

The reason that customer service is so vital to every organization includes the following:

1. Less Cost – As current clients tell existing customers of your products and services, they become marketing avatars through buzz marketing. Costs decrease due to a lack of need for advertising.

2. Increased Productivity – Content customers stem from a cooperative workforce culture. A cooperative culture leads to higher workforce productivity.

3. Less Labor – The increased use of social media and the Internet enable (content) customers to quickly connect with others that might be interested in your services. Customers do the work for your organization.

Let me be clear, customer service is one of a myriad of things organizations can do to remain close to clients and obtain new ones. However there is overwhelming evidence today to state that the Internet and other technologies allow for customer service foibles to ruin your organization’s reputation. Ignoring the issue can quickly harm shareholder return, create obstacles to your success and increase competitive pressures.

So what are some of those factors that help to contribute towards aiding an organization with their customer service? Here are just a few thoughts.

1. Return calls – Nothing can be more devastating to a company then employees that do not return calls when they say they will or do not return them at all. Not keeping commitments or lying quickly harms organization’s credibility.

2. Keep promises – Whether there is a sales promotion or a contract negotiation, never negate your terms. Meet promises with conviction.

3. Hire Right – There is nothing can than can harm your bottom line more than poor employees. Hire for skill not talent. Lack of enthusiasm denotes a lack of customer service.

4. Create a culture – Simply put happy clients envelope customer service. Exemplars include FedEx, Southwest Airlines etc. whose purpose is to ensure a content customer.

5. Follow Up – Cascading technologies create an aura of constant communication. Monitor the social networks and blogs. Follow up on noticeable trends and seek out customers for their opinions.

6. Customer engagement – Allow customers to become part of your marketing and sales efforts. The more involved the more brand loyalty they build.

7. Strategy – Constantly remind staff and when necessary yourself, there is only one purpose to business – creating clients. When they require something they are not an interruption.

I will never forget a time when we moved and the moving organization lost a very expensive pair of my business shoes. For months we bantered about their losing my shoes and they declined all my requests to refund the loss. In fact, they sent me a letter stating, “We do not make it a practice but there is a need to make policy to inform clients of their incorrectness we do.” Ironically, eight years later we found my brand new shoes in the bottom drawer of our dining room bureau! The company is fortunate that social media was unavailable at the time!

I know you have some famous customer service stories. What are some of yours? Place your stories or comments on best practices in the comment box below.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Drew Stevens
Drew J. Stevens Ph.D. (Dr. Drew) is the author of Split Second Selling and the soon to be released Ultimate Business Bible and six other business books on sales, customer loyalty, self mastery and business development solutions. Drew helps organizations to dramatically accelerate revenue and outstrip the competition. He conducts over 4 international keynotes, seminars and workshops per year.


  1. I very much appreciate this article Dr. Drew – thank you. It’s funny, but in some respects all people talk about is their customer and the value of the customer; however, few truly know how to nurture this across the board. I’m almost obsessive about customer service and notice everything. I’ve been amazed at the lack of customer service from some very notable companies and at the same time I’ve been amazed by the incredible customer service from my local auto repair shop. In both the businesses I’ve owned customers service was always top priority – just how you treat people in general was/is most important. I think the key(s) with exceptional customer services is both time and awareness – it’s an effort and unfortunately we live in a society that doesn’t place the same value on effort that it once did. Thanks again! Much kindness, Elena

  2. I see too much emphasis on customer service at all costs. I think it’s important to have good customer service as a pillar of your business strategy, but not above all costs. The costs to service a given customer have to be weighed just like the phone bill. and after doing that you may decide that that customer simply isn’t worth it. Sometimes I make the decison that a given customer is simply not going to be worth the effort, and try to terminate early. We don’t subscribe to the customer always being right, and while we stand up for our mistakes when we make them, we will also call out a customer who is wrong or expecting too much. We simply shouldn’t sacrifice everything to service each and every customer. They should know than being allowed to do business with us is a privelage that is not open to everyone and can be revoked.

  3. Wow! I found Dale’s comments very interesting. I own a small business and spend a good amount on advertising. But as my dad always told me, “a satisfied customer is your best advertising!” People talk when they are happy and they talk even more when they are unhappy. I have had a couple of people who were almost impossible to make happy. Those people most likely live their lives that way so not so much I can do. But if it costs me $30 ro $40 my cost to replace an item and to have them return with their money and their friends, I am happy to do that. I am not like the “Big Boy Stores” that can just refund anything with no questions asked but I sure can do everything I can to make sure I have happy customers talking about my business over the fence, at parties, and at work. It is my privelage to serve them, not their privelage to serve me. Steve

  4. I completely agree with Dale. There are too many customers out there that have been brainwashed with the motto “The customer is always right”. In my line of business I have lost way too much money to customers because of trying to please them and their every complaint. Some customers behave irrationally just because they believe that they can and that it’s okay because after all, they are the customer. My opinion is that it is completley unfair to the business, it’s employees and owner.

  5. Thank you all for the kind words and continue discussion. As it turns you are correct, customers if they are massive complainers can harm the business because it costs more to keep them. While I denote the importance of acquisition and retention, sometimes termination is in order.

  6. I don’t think companies should be held hostage by their customers demanding unreasonable levels of service, pricing or whatever.

    Sometimes “firing” customers is in order, but it must be done tactfully. Otherwise you could end up with a media storm like Sprint experienced when it fired 1,000 customers who were complaining too much.

    But it turned out that many were calling because of problems that Sprint needed to fix.


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