Mar 17, 2010

What peeves you off as a customer?

Spelling errors. Crappy coupons. Slow customer service.

What are your customer peeves?

Everyone has them. We're all consumers (unless we're hermits with self-sustaining farms, to whom, if they exist, I say: power to you!), so we've all had less-than-sterling customer experiences. And while some people use their peeves to get goodies out of big corporations (dear, dear book store customers who complain when special-ordered books can't arrive next-day...), the rest of us, we nurture our secret annoyances, share them with select family and friends, maybe write a blog post or two — or tweet — about it, and just try to avoid putting ourselves in a place where we have to deal with that crap.

For myself, I have a few mini-peeves that don't really count — things that I notice, but that don't make me avoid doing business with a person, place or thing again. You know. Typos on product packaging. Useless, placeholder Web sites with nowhere to click and not even a pretty picture to look at. Offering an e-mail link but never answering my (admittedly usually non-imperative) e-mails.

And then there are the Real Peeves. Things that make me avoid a business — things that inspire me to complain about that business when people mention it in my presence. Like treating your employees badly. Blatantly caring more about sales numbers than about customer satisfaction. Using cheap, non-sustainable, toxic or unhealthy materials just because it increases the immediate profit margin. Acting friendly to lure customers to your site, but then hitting them with promotional pitches as soon as they get there. Using gimmicks that follow the latest trend, without actually believing in the values behind the trend (e.g., selling products labeled "organic" just because they're popular, or using pop-culture words or names just because it will garner more search engine hits). Wasting people's time and devaluing their business by inviting everyone to your party (i.e., Web site, shop, whatever) just to increase visits, and then catering mostly to a select group of customers that could easily have been targeted in the original advertising.

Basically, I'm willing to forgive unintentional human flaw. (Nobody's perfect!) Heck, I welcome the occasional minor human flaw in a business, as long as it isn't unethical. Seeing the flaws keeps the business looking like it's run by humans. A business can even earn bonus points with me by noticing a flaw or mistake and fixing it — that shows goodwill and a desire to make improvements, and if it's based on customer feedback, all the better. If a business is willing to learn from mistakes and take real action toward positive change, they get points, and enough points translates to my support and/or my business. Simple and positive. :D (And it even holds true for big mistakes.)

But I am so NOT willing to forgive purposeful disrespect of humans or resources. I hate it when people and businesses behave selfishly, not out of fear or ignorance, but purely for personal benefit, and I especially hate it when they think they can be fake and fool people into trusting them anyway. Ugh. That's an easy way to lose me as a customer and gain me as an outspoken detractor.

...You aren't me, though, and now I'm curious. Since everyone's different, I'm sure you have different peeves than I do. I'd love to hear your snark — so tell me, if you will! I'm not talking lawsuit material here — those are stories for another campfire ;) — although if you have a juicy story about a major mishap that you needed to haul out the lawyers for, and you're just dying to share it — have at! Otherwise, burn a few brain bytes and share: What annoying business practices make you avoid giving a business your money?

To those who are about to comment, thanks for speaking out. Together we can make the business world a less annoying place. ;)
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