Small Business Customer Service Advice

5 Things That Frustrate Your Customers

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

You might be frustrating your customers. There are five things that you or your company does that are sure to exasperate.

The last thing you want to do is frustrate your customers but, if the following five points sound like you then you might be doing just that.

  1. No email address! A surprising amount of business websites don't feature an actual email address that can be copied and pasted or made a note of. Instead the contact us pages either spring an Outlook launch at the visitor or provide only an enquiry form onsite. Not everyone likes these options because:
    • Not everyone uses Outlook. Why? It's just not their favorite mailing system. So it's annoying if they are automatically made to begin launching Outlook.
    • Not everyone likes to use an online form. Why? Because they prefer to mail their own way. An online form doesn't allow the visitor to keep a record of the mail. Okay, this can be done if they cope and paste the text and make a note of the date and time they submitted the enquiry. But, hey, it's a bit of a nuisance.
  2. No human beings! Automated phone services are all well and good but a lot of people aren't keen on them. Offer the 'would you like to talk to a real person?' option in your auto menu.
  3. Being locked in! Arrangements whereby customers get trapped into ordering a certain amount of product for a certain amount of time are seen as too restrictive by many consumers.
  4. Wild goose chases! Being sent from one department to another only to be directed back to the department you first contacted is incredibly frustrating. Not only that, it also proves another well-labored point – that the customer is always right. They contacted the right department in the first place after all.
  5. Being promised the earth! Do you promise next day delivery only to ship the item late? This is such a huge frustration it almost fits into the 'this will make your customers murderous' bracket. Think about it. People often use a particular company only because they claim delivery will take place inside 24 hours. If you promise this and fail to do it you get to wear the 'I frustrate people T-Shirt'. Really! If you sell product that people could readily get elsewhere they are probably using you solely because they want that item fast. If they are paying a little over the average price then that's almost certainly the case. People only pay a higher price for something if there's some other benefit to doing so. Like next day delivery.

If you are guilty of any of the above then it's time to have a bit of a shake up. Yes, use automated services but add the human touch, offer options. Okay, use an enquiry form on your contacts page but don't make that the only way customers can contact you.

If you do have special deals for customers who want regular deliveries, then great, but if you only allow for that sort of business you make be turning other customers away. And if you frequently have callers being redirected in circles then you need to get your customer servicing, billing or technical help staff retrained. As for not delivering when you say you will, it's unforgivable and no amount of apology or recompense makes up for the birthday present that didn't arrive on the day.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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