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How to Lose Your Customers in 10 Simple Ways

Plenty of success stories and proven processes are out there regarding Customer Service strategy and tactics.  That’s why it confounds me that there still exist companies that seem motivated to degrade, separate, piss off and just lose their customers.  I got to thinking that maybe a number of you small business owners may want the same results.  Those  customers can be a royal pain in the butt, with their annoying little credit card transactions and product questions, making you have to produce more goods and deliver on services.  This post is for you, Mr. Small Business Owner trying to ditch his customers.  Learn and implement this stuff and you can just chuck it all and go retire to Bermuda and spend your time drinking Mai Tais by the pool and eating Conch.  Here’s your top 10 best practice list to get rid of customers in a hurry!

1. Make Sure All of Your Specials are for New Customers Only

One surefire way to make existing customers walk is to run all your specials for New customers only.  The current customers think you don’t value their business any more.  You can bolster this strategy by not having any Customer Appreciation days, posts, sales and only marketing to the newbies.  Trust me, this really works!

2. Never Thank Them

This is an oldie but still effective technique.  Resist the urge to thank customers for orders, either face to face in your store or after the project or even online by removing the “Thanks for the Order” from your confirmation email.  This is more direct than the Specials approach but gets to the same emotion of feeling unappreciated that these customers tend to get, yet can even be more effective when used tactfully.

3. Ignore Them

There is a strategic theme here I am sure you picked up on.  Ignoring your customers in your establishment and especially when they want something from you is a can’t miss technique.  If you’re in web design, for instance, and your long time customer wants something done and pops you a request, just trash it without reading it.  I can tell you this, just like little children these sycophantic customers, this method is MUCH more effective than berating them, yelling at them, and telling them their mother wears combat boots.  Go figure!

By the way, a sub-strategy on this process deals directly with your Customer Service Hotline.  First, develop a menu system that is 5+ layers deep with no options to get a CSR on the phone, then finally, send them to a distant land where the heavily accented rep asks them if the device is plugged in, then puts them on hold again to…heh heh heh…cut off the call!  If you can make this experience 20 minutes or longer, gold star for you.  My former phone company cut me off all the time without warning.  They were experts at telephony.

4. Promise One Thing, Then Deliver Another

Now let’s move onto your performance, something you long-time and successful business owners might have to check yourselves on, because this cuts against the grain.  Simply make a promise and then don’t keep it.  That’s it.  This works exceedingly well with delivery dates, return policies, and money back guarantees.

5. Take on an Assignment You Can’t Do Well

Come on now, you know this one.  This practice is a superb way to avoid seeing customers again and assuring one-time transactions and works great for consultants and manufacturing companies making custom products.  I’m thinking about hanging out my shingle as a social media expert to land some business there, it seems popular, but first I need to find out the cool sites like My-Face, Tweeting something or other, and Linkeroonie.  How do you like me now, customers!

6. Restrict Your Payment Terms

Ever been to a business that wouldn’t take cash?  How about credit?  Those companies have been following this tactic for years and not even knowing it.  With many things going totally electronic these days, a lot of companies are encouraging things like direct debit and automatic payments after customer approval.  Don’t stop there—demand it!  Make that dude pay your way or ship out, Sherlock.

7. Diminish Their Problems

There are a lot of variations to this one, but here are a few winners.  Write these down!

“You’re the only customer that has ever had this problem.”

“Is this really that big of a deal?”

“How much does that really cost you?”

And the related but less impactful…

“I’m sure we can find a work-around.”

8. Be Hard to Track Down When There is a Problem

Top Exec and CEO Super-Strategy.  When the sloppy Joe really hits the fan, I mean when it gets really dicey, make yourself scarce.  This touches on the Ignore Them method I’ve already explained, but puts it on steroids.  Screen all your voicemails at the office, fill up your in-box on your cell phone so it won’t take any more messages so they know how important you are relative to them, and set your autoresponder for your emails with www.RipOffReport.com in the footer.  Once CEO told me with regard to customer problems, “It’s a good idea to just avoid the issue for a while.  They usually forget about it.”  Like a pregnancy forgets about the baby they do![i]  A rock star in the customer loss field that guy, and didn’t even know it.

9. Make Sure You Prove You’re Right

Look, everyone knows that the Customer isn’t always right, she is often wrong, and gosh darn it, she needs to know it and know why.  Make sure you prove your point to your customer ah-lah Perry Mason until she admits defeat.  Her self-image will be so shattered she may not dare do business with you again.  Depending on how aggressively you implement this one, you might have to work this tactic in with some others listed here to complete the job.

10. Call Them Names & Berate Them

This is counter-intuitive to most CSRs and is usually best employed by the CEO or owner, because a certain amount of arrogance—OK, stones the size of cantaloupes, is required.  Customers who have been through a bad experience should set you up for this one though by raising their voices, telling you it’s the worst experience ever, etc.  Even if you’re trying to keep a customer in this situation, realize that he’s gone anyway so send him out the door with some psychological baggage about his appearance, voice or family.  You’ll be glad you did.

Now I bet you have more than 10 ways to give your customers the old heave ho, and I’d love to hear them as would other readers of this post, so let them go.  Please, no posts from you do-gooders out there who want to keep your customers for life…so 90s.

[i] Note: If this text is offensive, substitute, “Like the IRS forgets about taxes, they do.”

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