Flipping the Coin – How do your Customers See your “Little Mistakes”

Filed as Editorial on November 8, 2013 8:39 am

A little while ago I read this great post by Ken Mueller which got me thinking, “Where have I never been with my posts before?”

I was quite surprised to find that the answer was “The customer’s mind-set.” I have written posts in the past about providing great customer service and nurturing post-purchase, but never actually about how a business could be seen through the eyes of a customer. Most importantly though, how customers view the “little mistakes” that you decided to let slide or deal with later.

Here are ten little mistakes that I see quite often when browsing the web, and how they could be making your customers view your business in the wrong light!

Little mistake #1 – Not blogging or updating your social networks

screenshot of blog not being updated

It’s very easy to neglect things like your blog and social networks. What with more urgent work tasks, familial and social commitments and unexpected requests dominating many of our lives, the simplest solution is to try and alleviate the pressure by “just blogging tomorrow.” That tomorrow then becomes the day after, and the day after that and the day after that, as you can see from the lonely looking lambs in the example above (almost as lonely looking as the stagnant blog itself)!

It’s a vicious circle, and one that can leave both existing and potential customers seeing you as just as neglectful in other areas of your business as in your content. It can also come across as you simply not having anything interesting to say, so how could you have anything interesting to offer your customer too?

Little mistake #2 – Not responding to social media queries

screenshot of bad social customer service

As with putting off content updates, putting off social correspondence is something else that’s tempting to put on the backburner. In an age where customers use social media as a speedy customer service tool rather than emailing or phoning a call centre, even queries you feel are unimportant are the exact opposite!

Whether someone is voicing a complaint or enquiring about the opening hours of your store, headquarters, warehouse etc, a fast response goes a long way in building a strong relationship and sense of trust with your prospects. Fail to do so and you run the risk of them thinking that you don’t care about your customers instead.

Little mistake #3 – Responding to social media complaints defensively

amys baking company being rude on twitter

It’s our natural instinct to defend our castle, so to speak. Your business is your livelihood, so it’s understandable that you’d want to come out fighting when someone voices a complaint. Think before you speak though, the number of companies who have actually made the situation ten times worse by letting their emotions get the better of them is well documented, most notably at Amy’s Baking Company.

If you must, take some time before you reply to collect your thoughts, to avoid inflaming the situation and making customers feel like you’re rude, suspiciously defensive and uncaring. When you do reply, make it personal instead of a generic “Contact our customer service department” or “email such and such.” Do everything you can to get to the bottom of their problem, offer them a personally tailored solution and even an incentive by way of apology such as a 10% discount on their next purchase. You could even take the opportunity to ask them if they had any concerns about any other area of your services. As well as potentially highlighting other areas of improvement it goes a long way in helping customers realise that you really do care about keeping them happy.

Little mistake #4 – You have an account on every social network possible

social network logos

Image credit: Hongkiat

Yes, social media can bring your brand to the eyes of a whole new customer base, but that doesn’t mean to say you should hop on every new social network that crops up. Your target audience won’t be present on all of these platforms so why waste your time trying to tackle them, especially if you’re finding them difficult to get the hang of and end up not using them all anyway? Worst of all, it can potentially have the adverse effect of making users think you’re unorganised, haphazard and as if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Little mistake #5 – Keyword stuffing your web pages

keyword stuffing example

Image credit: Lambent

The days where keyword stuffing to manipulate rankings was the norm are over. You now need to write primarily for your customers and not for search engines, placing keywords only where appropriate and where natural. Google updates its algorithms to ensure just that, often resulting in the stuffers moaning that they’ve lost visibility.

But Google aren’t doing this for the good of their health; it doesn’t take rocket science to realise that potential customers will run a mile once they click your page one result and are confronted with clunky, unreadable, spammy content. Because that’s just it, keyword stuffing reeks of spam and, therefore, untrustworthiness, no matter where on Google you rank.

Little mistake #6 – Not fixing broken links

404 error example

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Not fixing broken links is a sure-fire way of making customers see you as sloppy, inattentive and even untrustworthy. I’m not just talking about links that don’t exist anymore and result in a 404 page either, you should also be conducting regular tests to identify any links leading to the wrong pages and links with hashes that don’t actually go anywhere.

You should also be fixing them as soon as possible. Your website is a showcase for your business, and anyone struggling to find the right page or getting frustrated when links don’t work is going to exit and look elsewhere instead. At the same time though it’s worth creating a funny or attractive 404 page to try and alleviate some of the irritation visitors may feel. You could even design one that keeps visitors engaged by suggesting relevant, alternative content. The examples featured on Graphic Design Junction offer some great inspiration.

Little mistake #7 – Leaving lorem ipsum text on-site

lorem ipsum example

Image credit: Szaboka’s Blog

Having lorem ipsum text taking up a live site is a big no-no. The space it occupies should be populated by useful information for visitors and many visitors won’t even know what the lorem ipsum text is for, confusedly leaving the site to look for something that actually meets or answers their search query. Always double check your site content before putting it live, and ask a second pair of eyes to look over it in case you have missed something important.

Little mistake #8 – Outdated on-page content

updated offer information

Image credit: Referral Candy

I’ve already spoken about keeping your blog and social content up to date, and the same goes for your on-page content. If your company ethos, product and services information, offers and contact information has become outdated, your site visitors aren’t going to spend time trying to track down the new stuff. They’ll simply find a company who gives them what they were looking for.

Any changes in information should be automatically updated on all of your channels, whether on-site, on your social media platforms and even any offline publications you’re utilising. It’s an easy thing to forget, but also a crucial one.

Little mistake #9 – Too many fields in your opt-in forms

too many opt in form fields

Image credit: AWeber Communications

Opt-in forms can turn a potential lead into nothing at all in one fell swoop. While lengthier forms might be acceptable for mortgage applications they certainly aren’t for opt-in subscriptions, and need to be as low friction as possible for the information being requested.

You see, leads are easy to scare away. Just take a look at the results of research conducted by Eloqua – even after just three fields there was a significant drop in conversions.

eloqua form field research

Image credit: Eloqua

Being met with a minefield of form fields can appear greedy, intimidating and even nosey! Think about it, do you need to request a phone number or something like “Your biggest challenge as a business:” for something like an ebook? Even a company name field can be a step too far in some situations (don’t forget about it completely though, there’s no reason you can’t test this field against a form without one).

Little mistake #10 – A site that isn’t optimised for mobile or tablet

mashable using responsive web design

Image credit: Swanify

Yes, investing in things like mobile sites, mobile apps and responsive web design is more costly than just sticking with your generic site, but they’ll more than pay for themselves in the long run.

According to the International Data Corporation, tablet sales alone are expected to eclipse PC sales in just two years. Like it or not your customers are more mobile than ever – increasingly browsing and buying on the go – so it makes sense to ensure that your website is optimised for the device they’re using. Can you imagine a customer trying to view your website on the go and being met with something that won’t load properly or keeps crashing? It’s incredibly frustrating and can make you appear as if you just can’t be bothered.

While mobile sites and apps are a good route to go down, responsive web design takes away the need for additional sites by ensuring your current site can shift and change to suit the size and shape of the device it’s being viewed on. Very clever!

To conclude…

Remember, ‘little mistakes’ are still mistakes and can cost you much more than putting off replying to an email can. At the end of the day diligent testing, checking, communication and an open ear go a long way in building lasting relationships with your customers that not only encourage them to purchase, but encourage them to come back again and recommend your business to others.

Have you encountered any little mistakes that I haven’t mentioned recently? Fill me in using the comments section below!

Charlotte Varela is the chief Content Writer at www.tone.co.uk, a UK based Web Design and Inbound Marketing Agency.

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  1. By Adam Kielich posted on November 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm
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    I really dislike that twitter has become the fastest method to reach customer service for a business. I rarely have a problem that requires assistance that can be explained in 140 characters. If it is that simple 99.9% of the time I can fix it for myself. When a company hires somebody to watch the Twitter account for service requests it means they didn’t hire somebody to address email/call requests.

    As a small business owner I also dislike the idea that I need to be subservient to clients on social media at all times. I don’t conduct business through social media. It isn’t conducive to my industry or business model. Who wants to get their legal advice at 140 characters? Who really wants their lawyer to publish client-specific advice to the entire world? Nobody.

    Reply

    • By Charlotte Varela posted on November 11, 2013 at 4:28 am
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      Hi Adam, thanks for reading and thanks for your comment.

      I think I should have explained myself more clearly. While I’ve focused on social media queries here, I’m in no way I’m advising that you should replace your phone and email service with just a social media account. All three should work in conjunction to ensure that all bases are covered. If someone comes to a business with a more complicated/sensitive query via social media, then best practice would be to then send them a direct message which includes a customer service phone number so the issue can be discussed in private and in detail.

      Plus, as you say, Twitter isn’t the correct social media platform for every industry or business. While I do think Twitter can be universal, LinkedIn is also an ideal platform to consider for the legal profession.

      Thanks again for reading :)

      Reply

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