21 Ways Brands Turn Customers Away

UTurnIf you are a business owner, president or CEO, your customers mean everything to you. They are the reason you are in business, and you would do almost anything to keep them happy. Happy customers are loyal customers who are also great referrers of business. The loss of a customer, no matter how big or small, not only affects your profitability, it also affects you personally because he or she left to go be with your competitor. It stings.

If you would like some insight into the top reasons customers pack their bags and go to competitors, take a few minutes to look through the lists below. These lists are a product of brand audits I have done and candid interviews I have facilitated with customers from many industries.

Unprofessional Salespeople: These are the people you rely on the most, as they are responsible for building relationships, establishing trust, and bringing new business into your company. Below are the top eight brand crimes salespeople commit:

  1. Unprepared for meetings = disrespectful/inattentive brand
  2. Poor communication skills = unprofessional brand
  3. Product/service offerings lack relevance = low-value brand
  4. Lack of follow-through = unreliable brand
  5. Lack of attention to detail = unreliable brand
  6. Late for appointments = unreliable/disrespectful brand
  7. Badmouthing the competition = insecure/disrespectful/untrustworthy brand
  8. Poor hygiene = unprofessional/sloppy brand

Neglected Website: This is what customers are looking at, oftentimes long before any personal connection is established with a salesperson or rep from your company. Oftentimes when I meet with a new client, I’m informed about how awful their website is and how desperately it needs to be updated. I’m not sure if these companies truly understand that having a crappy website is like spraying on ten coats of OFF in the sales process. Here are the top five website fumbles that repel prospective customers.

  1. Failure to clearly articulate what the company does = confusing/irrelevant brand
  2. Failure to define brand uniqueness/benefits/value = low-value brand
  3. Difficult to navigate = “difficult to work with” brand
  4. Does not function properly = low-quality brand
  5. Old/dated information = low-quality/poor-service brand

Unmotivated and untrained personnel: Once people are drawn to your brand either by a salesperson or through your website, they will be exposed to other employees. Whether your employees realize it or not, they are a critical element of the sales process because they also give an impression of what your brand stands for and represents. Below is a list of the top four things customers gripe about, causing them to reconsider whether or not to do business with a company.

  1. Waiting on hold too long = poor customer service brand
  2. Untrained people in customer service = incompetent brand
  3. Need to chase/beg for a return call or email = poor customer service brand
  4. Lack of concern for us after the sale is made = “we don’t care about our customers” brand

Unimpressive office/facility/location: As soon as customers pull into a company’s parking lot to visit with the team or to take a tour, they start forming opinions about the brand by the condition of the parking lot, whether or not there is parking designated for visitors, and the overall appearance of the building. Once they enter, their opinions quickly harden like cement based on the look of the lobby and whether or not there is a smiling and welcoming face to greet them. Here are the top four ways companies tell customers to turn around, get back in their cars and go visit a competitor.

  1. Unwelcoming feeling (e.g., dimly lit lobby, boxes and other junk laying around, no lobby seating, etc.) = uncaring brand
  2. Dirty = sloppy/low attention to detail brand
  3. Outdated = old-fashion and/or struggling brand
  4. People don’t appear to be happy or look unfriendly = low-quality brand

If, after reading through this list there are areas within your company that merit attention, consider implementing a brand enhancement initiative to improve your brand’s image. These are the little (and not so little) details your customers notice, and potentially details that may cause them to second-guess doing business with your company. You, as the owner, may give a fantastic impression and presentation, but if that impression isn’t consistent with what they see, hear and experience, there is no brand credibility, and that’s a significant brand metric to ignore.