Why Limiting Customer Annoyance Is Its Own Form Of Marketing

Everyone reading this, at one time or another, has been frustrated by the actions of a company. Perhaps an account of theirs has been mistakenly suspended without warning, with the mistake being rectified only after a torturous, tiresome call with customer support.

Maybe they ordered a product, but it never showed its face, and now they have to “prove” the lack of delivery. Perhaps you’ve been subscribed to a service but have experienced downtime, with only a basic level of account credit to apologize for the mistake.

Customer annoyance is just as tangible as customer goodwill but can be more powerful if not adequately addressed. After all – marketing experts often suggest that someone pleased by a service might tell two or three friends; an aggrieved person will warn ten.

As such, limiting (or eviscerating) customer annoyance as much as possible will serve as its own form of marketing. In this post, we’ll discuss how to achieve that, not only as a nice feature but as an embedded part of your daily process:

Streamline Effectively

Streamlining processes to the point where they’re easier to understand, adopt and use is generally reasonable. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should remove features or provide fewer products for the sign-up fee. It simply means onboarding your process more efficiently and comfortably so that your customers can easily leverage it.

For example, consider Microsoft Teams video conferencing capabilities, or Zoom, two popular services during the height of the pandemic remote-work possibilities. Not only did these services offer their desktop programs, but you could also join video calls from the web browser and phone apps. In other words, if you had a compatible device, you could join an online video conference call.

For this reason, uptake was comfortable and easy for many to understand, from businesses scrambling to figure out their remote work situation to schools looking to transfer classes online. This is a streamlined process, as accessible options always help you appeal to a wider market and can reduce frustration or unnecessary exclusivity.

Constantly Improve Language & Communication

Improving your language and communication to explain your product and why it’s essential is always good. This might sound obvious – after all, no customer should spend hours figuring out what you offer, what they get for their money, and the extent to which it will be supported.

However, it’s also true to say that this is an authentic art, with the careful skill required to get the best results. This is why copywriting services are often helpful, as they can commit to the research needed to understand your brand and industry, implement the right tone of voice, and break down copy into “chunks” that can be understood piece by piece – such as a drop-down menu of your several scaled services.

Of course, rendering your website and service catalog in different languages won’t hurt either. For instance, if you’re a Canadian business, having English and French versions of your website is a practical approach, respecting all corners of your national market.

Offer Self-Service Where Possible

Self-service provisions can offer convenience or frustration depending on how they’re used. Many of us have stood with annoyance, waiting for a store clerk to come and approve our scanning of a grocery item thanks to the self-service machine falsely assuming we hadn’t scanned a weighed item.

However, in some circumstances, self-service offers autonomy and comfort without involving you. Simple online checkout with many payment provider integrations, account management that allows for setting preferences, and the ability to save address information for easy ordering are rudimentary forms of self-service provision.

If you offer software, allowing customers to sign up and gain immediate access is critical. Self-service can come in many forms, but within your secure systems, it trusts the customer to use your product or service correctly, speeding up the transaction and benefiting your firm.

Personalize Experience Offered

Personalized experiences may seem like a means of providing what your customer wants, but actually, it’s about filtering out what your customer isn’t interested in. This way, you implicitly only cater to their interests, which can be genuinely beneficial.

It’s why food delivery apps will often track your usage and only offer you promotions or discount codes based on the kind of foods you’re most likely to order – such as a 10% off voucher for your local pizzeria. Carefully understanding your customer’s habits and slowly helping them look at other, related, most appropriate alternatives can allow you to promote further without stepping on toes.

In some cases, companies can offer fully modular services where even business-to-business clients can pick and choose the package they utilize. Personalization improves customer retention, a signifier that you’ve promoted well without irritating your audience.

Ask For Feedback To Make Improvements

Annoyance is one thing, but feeling your annoyance has no productive outlet to express itself is another. We’ve all been in disagreements where it felt like we weren’t being heard or our concerns were being disregarded, and there’s almost nothing more frustrating than that.

So, don’t let your firm fall into this trap. Sure, some customer reviews are baffling, and some feedback is not worth acting upon, but you must listen to it where you can. Encouraging reviews for discounts on a new order, committing to surveys, and allowing for feedback on customer support requests can all give you something to go off, giving you a worthwhile step forward.

Leverage Technology & Tools Worth Using

There’s no shame in automating or leveraging technologies to make practical business, outreach, or customer experiences more seamless. For instance, website chat software that connects customers to live support agents can provide email capabilities for later responses or can direct customers to your FAQ section can be tremendously helpful.

This helps free up the time of your customer support agents by limiting the number of basic requests they have to deal with in person while also giving you a chance to come to an immediate solution. 

These chatbots provide a much more precise, consistent, and accessible alternative to the old annoyance of staying on a customer support line for hours. That speaks to your business values, as “well, they have excellent customer support” is a fantastic narrative to have said about you via word of mouth.

Make Your Off-Boarding Process Easy

Sometimes, through no fault of your own, a customer might not wish to use your services or products anymore. Perhaps they’ve found a better alternative more suitable to their needs, they can’t afford the service anymore, or they’re just trying to cut out luxury spending.

Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t make this process difficult. All that does is add frustration. Allow people to cancel their subscriptions through your account software. Suppose you make the off-boarding process easy, simple, and respectful without negotiating over the phone, charging an early cancellation fee (unless this contravenes a contract made with the individual), or making the process laborious. In that case, you remind your lost customer that they can always return with the same ease. Instead, thank them for their custom, and move on. That respectful approach makes a difference and shows your customer-handling values. 

After all, we’re not entitled to customers. The more you can express that, the more your appreciation shines through.

Schedule Regular Maintenance During Off-Peak Hours

It’s important to schedule regular maintenance during your off-peak hours where appropriate. This way, the chance of unexpected downtime reduces. Provided you telegraph this a good time in advance, this will lessen the irritation if your service is down.

For instance, you might run essential system maintenance from midnight to 2 am, providing a comfortable period when most customers won’t use your service or website. You’d be surprised how many companies can struggle with finding the right time for this or only realize the need for maintenance during a terrible lapse in functionality.

Acts Of Goodwill

Goodwill can go a long way. Let’s say a customer has subscribed to your service for a year. Now, they’ve been charged for another year due to passing the auto-roll date. It’s been a week since this date, but they’ve just noticed and want to cancel.

While your contract might say customers have five days to cancel after an auto-renewal and get a refund, for goodwill’s sake, empowering your customer service agent to process the refund and ask if there’s anything else they can do will make a big difference. Stubbornly holding onto those funds, even if you’re in the right, can be frustrating, and word spreads fast.

Acts of goodwill, in this way, help you go the extra mile and provide a human service that cares and understands that not everything is 100% perfect all of the time. Even this perspective can go a long way to limiting customer annoyance. With this advice, you’re sure to specify customer annoyance as its form of marketing. When you’re easy to work with, people tend to remember that and return to you – even if they’re not blown away by your service every time.

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Author

Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of VisionPros.com, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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