Four mistakes businesses make with customers

One of the great things about the work I do is the breadth of businesses and industries I get to delve into. Common to most are four customer experience mistakes I’ve noticed.

Focusing on themselves

Your customer doesn’t care about you, they care about what you can do for them. That means your website, marketing communications and presentations need to be built around their problem state first and foremost.

‘We create succession plans’. I don’t care. I want to know what happens to my business when I leave it.

‘We are accountants’. I don’t care. I want to know you’ll turn every rock to maximise my earnings.

Here are two examples for appointment scheduling software businesses

As the examples illustrate, A is written from the perspective of the business, whereas B pits the customer’s concern front and centre. The lesson is to start with your customer in mind and write from their perspective.

Remember, people are most interested in themselves, so prove to them you understand their world and you’ll engage their interest.

Valuing form over function

Do you have a pretty website people can’t use? Perhaps lots of white text on images or black backgrounds, or call to action buttons that match your logo? Or maybe you have doors in your office that people don’t know whether to push or pull?

I’m still confused by this hotel shower tap I had to negotiate with one morning. Cold is on the left but I have to move it right?

Aesthetics are important, but not at the expense of utility. If Amazon has taught us nothing else, it’s that an ugly site with a frictionless payment process can convert to the tune of $176 billion. Focus on your behavioural optimisation – how people take the actions you want – and make it easy.

Being generous to a fault

Sometimes we kill our customers with kindness. We give them multiple ways of contacting us, an endless list of products from which to choose and dazzle them with points, rewards, discounts and bonuses. It’s exhausting and confusing for them and us. Trim it back, keep it simple and remember less can be more.

Here’s an example of an email marketing campaign. Notice they have generously given me two things to do here, and weighted both equally by making both buttons red and prominent? Bad move. All attention should be on the primary action, buying tickets, with the option to share with a friend less emphasised.

Start by asking yourself what you want people to do with the message you are sending them – do you want them to do something or nothing? Create a hierarchy of calls to action so they know what the most important action to take is, and have the confidence people will spend a little more effort as long as they want something enough.

Chasing the loyalty pipe dream

I’ll grant you that there are some customers who become extreme, loyal, dyed-in-the-wool fans. Think Ford vs. Holden, Apple vs. Microsoft, Nike vs. Adidas, for example. But for most businesses, customer “loyalty” is a pipedream.

Want to know if your customer is loyal? Here’s the test – would your customer stick with you even if your competitor offered a product that was better, cheaper or more convenient? If the answer is yes, then you may have captured their heart, otherwise you are fooling yourself.

That’s not to say customers don’t cite loyalty in surveys and expect to be rewarded for staying with you. But their real reasons for staying with you will have little to do with loyalty and more to do with laziness or fear of change.

Instead of chasing ‘loyalty’, focus on building for habits, reliance and repetition. Create low barriers to join you, high barriers to leave. Remember, customers will stay with you if it’s easier than bothering to change.

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