Copyright © MMXXI, Shep Hyken – Used with Permission

Intro by Skip Cohen

I’m a big Shep Hyken fan! But, there’s also so much in his archives that’s relevant – no spoilage date like a carton of milk. Customer Service is your not-so-secret weapon to separate yourself from your competitors.

In this archived post, Shep hits on three reasons customers might walk away, but I want to add a few more as they relate to what I’ve seen with businesses in the imaging sector:

  • Failing to Keep Your Promises: The biggest challenge is delivering on time or even a day or two early. But it’s not just delivery of the finished prints, but appointments and callbacks as well.
  • Lack of Empathy: If a client calls you upset, you need to listen and then resolve the issue. The customer really isn’t ALWAYS right, opposite to what we learned growing up in business, but they do deserve a response and a solution. You can’t hide from an angry consumer, but you can diffuse them simply by saying, “How can I help?”
  • Poor Quality: I’m referring to the finished product. Too many artists believe the customer doesn’t know the difference between a great photograph and a mediocre one. While that may be true, why risk losing a customer over work that anybody’s Uncle Harry could capture and create?
  • You Talk too Much: I’m only adding this because I saw it happen recently and knew it would get your attention. The issue was a photographer shredding a client in a professional photographic forum on Facebook. The customer was made aware of what was said and was beyond upset. Just because a forum is supposedly for professional photographers, you don’t know who’s reading what you’ve written. Remember, there are no erasers on the Internet!

The bottom line is…make your goal to always exceed expectations and make yourself habit-forming!

One of the favorite chapters I wrote in my recent book, I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again and Again, was about why customers would terminate their relationship with you. Yes, the word terminate ties into the movie Terminator, which somehow became a theme in the background of the book. So, why would a customer terminate his or her relationship with you? 

In the book, I shared 10 reasons, although there are many more. These reasons are derived from our customer service and experience research, which revealed what was most important to the customer. So, it makes sense that the opposite would be the reasons that customers might terminate their relationship with you and your organization. With that in mind, here are three reasons a customer would choose to say, “Hasta la vista, baby!” (Okay, I couldn’t resist another Terminator reference.) 

  1. Apathy – Want to irritate a customer? Just act like you don’t care. Apathy can come across as if you don’t care about the customer. It can even look like you don’t care about your company. You’re just going through the motions. Your investment in the job has nothing to do with the company or taking care of customers. You’re simply working for take-home pay, and it shows.  
  2. Rudeness – I’m not sure which is worse, rudeness or apathy. At least with rudeness, there can still be some sort of emotion displayed. An employee can be good at the technical side of the job – and care about the company – but be terrible when it comes to dealing with the customer. I’ve encountered front-line employees in customer support and sales positions who should never have been put on the front line. As knowledgeable as they might be, they are rude and have a communication style that often comes off as disrespectful.  
  3. Inability to Connect – Customers hate friction, and one of the friction points we found in our research is when customers have difficulty getting the contact information they need to call customer support. And sometimes, even when they have the information, they find it difficult to find the right person to talk to. A couple of suggestions here. First, make it super easy for customers to reach out to you, and I’ll add, the way they want to reach out to you. Make your phone number and email address easy to find, and be available on other channels you know your customers like to use (text, social media, etc.). Second, if the customer reaches the wrong person on the first attempt, be sure that the employee knows who the right person is. In other words, the employee may not be trained to answer every question a customer will ask, but they know who to transfer the customer to when they don’t.  

Well, there you have it. Three reasons that customers might terminate their relationship with you. I believe these, and other reasons in the book, fall into the category of common sense. Yet, it surprises me how many companies and employees fail to deliver on these basic ideas.  

Copyright © MMXXI, Shep Hyken – Used with Permission