10 Things You Should NEVER Do to a Customer


There used to be a standard when it came to service. Being “professional” was something that most people understood when they started a business, or got hired to do a job. But all around me, online and at brick-and-mortar stores, I am constantly confronted with bad service. So bad that it shocks me to see what business owners and employees subject their customers to. Maybe business ethics just aren’t taught anymore?

Whatever the case may be, here is my list of things you should never do to your customers. They apply to both business owners and their employees.

Don’t get people excited for nothing.

If you promise a sale, then have one. If you have a giveaway, send the prize to the winner (yes, it’s sad, but businesses actually fail to do this). If you are releasing something new, don’t make an announcement months in advance and make people wait. Don’t tell people you are shipping their orders when all you’ve really done is packed things up and printed labels. Some businesses let parcels pile up and drag their feet about actually going to the post office or scheduling pickups, while giving customers the impression that the packages are actually in transit.

Don’t close early.

If the sign says you are open until 5:00, do not lock the doors at 4:55 or turn your answering machine on too soon. I realize that last-minute customers can push the limits of your patience after a long day, but you must keep your posted business hours. Be available at the times you say you’re going to be available. And if something unexpected comes up, put a notice on your door (or your website or Facebook page) so customers know where you are and when you’ll return.

Don’t air your dirty laundry.

No one wants to hear about the argument you had with your spouse while in the checkout line. Facebook fans are not interested in how your child is coping with a stomach virus. Keep the sad/gross/controversial stuff to yourself.

Don’t say it’s not your problem. 

Customers often encounter problems that you can’t fix. Perhaps they are trying to place an order on your website but their internet is down. Or they purchased from you in the past and have a question about reporting expenses for taxes. Granted, you’re not in business to fix their computer or answer tax questions, but don’t take the “it’s not my problem” attitude. Sometimes they just need a listening ear, and providing that will go a long way in establishing a good relationship. If you don’t have any solutions or suggestions, point them to the proper resources.

Don’t promise you’ll help when you can’t.

Surely this has happened to you before. A representative makes a huge show of being concerned about your question or problem, gives you the “we’re here for you” song-and-dance, and then does absolutely nothing to help! In other words, they are following a script instead of actually listening and troubleshooting. Your customer is going to feel lied to, which is actually not far from the truth.

Don’t criticize the competition.

Build yourself up without tearing others down. It makes you look petty and insecure. Your product  or service should speak for itself.

Don’t whine.

Business owners have to deal with unpleasant things like overhead, government regulation, taxes and deadlines. But it’s very unprofessional to complain about it to customers. It’s your burden to carry so buck up and deal with it. Nobody likes doing business with Eeyore.

This applies to employees as well. It’s childish to openly complain about your boss, your hours or your salary while you’re serving customers. This is called DRAMA and there are plenty of reality shows for people who like listening to that sort of thing.

Don’t try to multi-task. 

Give a customer your full attention. Do not carry on a conversation with your co-workers, talk on the phone, type on your computer or eat/drink while assisting a customer. It’s rude. Plain and simple.

Don’t ask if you aren’t going to listen.

Why take a survey if you’re not going to heed the results? Why ask customers on your Facebook page what they’d like to see in the coming year if you’re going to do your own thing anyway? People feel deceived when asked to give their honest feedback, only to discover that the business has completely disregarded their input.

Don’t hide your failures.

If you made a mistake, explain why or how it happened, and then apologize. Trying to make excuses or gloss over it will come off as deceitful and unprofessional. Customers understand that unexpected things are going to come up from time to time and delay orders, raise prices or derail stocking and shipments. When your clients are greatly inconvenienced, it’s nice (but not required) to do something to “make it up” to them (a coupon towards a future purchase, a free gift or a voucher for free shipping on the next order).

Treat your customers ethically and respectfully and you’ll foster loyalty, trust and prosperity. Do the opposite and they will complain to family and friends, expose you on social media and ultimately, give their money to someone else.

Do you agree with my top ten? What are your pet peeves when it comes to customer service?

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  1. Jennie Robertson February 5, 2015
    • Anne February 5, 2015
  2. Kemya Scott February 23, 2015

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