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The art of infuriating customers


How many times have companies acted as if it's you who should be grateful for being allowed to buy stuff from the company and not the other way around? It can be about bad service or that the tone changes when an order has been placed.
What seemed to be a super nice and helpful person suddenly becomes unreachable and the problem has been brushed aside and suddenly becomes your own fault. Of course you get disappointed and angry.

Here are a few safe tips in the art of infuriating customers. Take them seriously or laugh at them, but acknowledge that you have experienced them. Tremble with shame if you apply these concepts in your own company because right now there may be customers out there who suddenly recognize your company as bad.
You don't want that!

10 tips that you can use if you want to infuriate customers


1. Fees
Find creative new fees to add without telling people what they mean. Apply the ”Weekend Fee”(on weekdays),”Supplement Fee” or other incomprehensible surcharges. Use a set-up fee for every little thing you do (even if it's only about answering the phone). Add billing charges and service fees on a consistent basis to every invoice you send out.
Be a little creative.
Be the first person to introduce the ”IT-charge” to prove to everyone that you aren't afraid to break new grounds. The important thing is that you show these extra added costs after the customer has signed a deal/contract or after he/she has received the delivery.”Yes, but I assumed you knew ...”is a good phrase to use at all times as an excuse when customers complain about all your additional costs.
Another good phrase is ”Everyone in this industry ..”or ”It has more or less become a standard to ...”. The most important thing is for you to get the customer to act stupid for having the nerve to question the additional costs.


2. Make yourself unavailable
When you're in the office, be sure to notify the operator that you are in a “meeting this morning” even if it only involves a short coffee break with your colleagues. After lunch, please indicate to the operator that you are in a meeting ”all afternoon”  too. This way, the person trying to reach you in the morning and trying again in the afternoon, will learn that you're a very busy and important person.
Also make sure that it's not possible to leave you any messages, not even to the operator. If the customer really wants to do business with you, he has to keep calling, I guess.


3. Show the customer how little he/she really knows
Disparage your customer's knowledge of the topic. Say things like; ”I don't think you have grasped this” or ”Yes, we had what you ask for  - about 40 years ago, there is something new that applies now.”
Giggle and smile and look at a colleague in order to emphasize that the customer in front of you doesn’t know anything at all.


4. Lie and weave
Always blame problems on things beyond your control. It's not your fault that you failed to install the computer right, it's because the spaces are too narrow (or too large) at the client's premises. The reason for the broken screen must be that the staff at the client's warehouse is careless when they receive stuff. The reason for you being late is because it's so hard to find the customer's strange address. The reason for not calling and informing the customer that the order will be delayed is because the customer's telephone system must be old or broken.


5. Always refer to the fine print in your contracts when customers need help
If a customer wants a simple question answered, first consult the customer contract. Don't let people think that they can get something for free because they happen to be a customer. Make sure that there are lots of incomprehensible paragraphs while you offer an additional service package for x dollars that will solve the problem the customer has right now. The basic rule is: Make sure to charge extra as soon as you notice that the customer needs your help.


6. Use the word ”policy” even if you don't know what it means
Anything that can't be explained in a clear way can easily be turned into a ”policy”.
”We never deliver on time on Thursdays - it's our policy”.


7. Show off your success
Make sure to have a really expensive car when visiting new clients and talking about yourself and your business. Start the conversation with saying that you're worried that your Porsche might get stolen in the customer's car park and that you would be happy if they could  ”speed”  up the meeting a little because “you're not accustomed to park in such run down areas”.


8. Create disgust and uncertainty
If  you are a male dealing with a female customer, always call her ”sweetie” or ”darling”. Touch her whenever you can. Stroke her back when you're talking business. Always try to sit a little too close. Smile flirtatious when she describes the problem she wants to solve. If she gets irritated and wonders if you can solve her problem or not, just imply that her real problem is of a sexual nature and that you are the right person to solve it.
If you are a woman and have male clients, giggle every time you start talking about a problem a customer want to solve, then apologize quickly and encourage him to continue. When he starts talking again, make sure he understands how hard it is for you not to keep laughing. Another great tip to get him off balance is: Talk to him as if he were a child.


9. Always arrive late when visiting customers
Customers are supposed to have the privilege of doing business with your company so why bother with being on time. You are an important person and what's the big deal if you happen to be half an hour late ?! If the customer complains that you are late, sigh, and tell him/her that he/she is so ”amazingly traditional”. Be a little philosophical and say that ”time is really just a word.”If the customer asks you to leave, do not worry. It's just because he/she doesn't understand how important you could have become for them.


10. Show customers that you really don't care whether they will remain your customers or not and do it in a way that is both subtle and evoking at the same time
Always treat old customers like you don't care if you lose them or not. Of course they will stay on, ”they've have always done business with us.” Make sure that delivery is always late and above all – don't tell the client about it. Make sure that the customer has to call several days in order to get a hold of the seller. Make sure the seller's phone number is assigned to a answering service that picks up the call after 15 signals and announces that there is no one available at the customer service right now. Lure customers into a false sense of security by allowing him/her to talk to a manager who promises next day delivery, but of course you don't deliver the next day.
Allow the customer to call back and blame the plane from Ireland (or some other suitable place) didn't take off because of a local public holiday. Promise next day delivery, but make sure that nothing will happen for yet another few days. Once the customer has received the product and calls for some form of compensation for the delay, give him/her a ridiculous discount on condition that they buy another product.

If you succeed in all of this, you get the highest score.


The paradox with the unhappy customer
Customers that feel that your company takes care of and listens to complaints will be more loyal than customers who never complain. The reason is simple: As a consumer the thing that worries us the most, is that we buy something we're not happy with and that no one will listen to us if we complain. We wonder just how much trouble we will face if we want to get a problem straightened out.  If we notice that someone is actually listening to us to make us happy, we are suddenly willing to recommend the company to all our friends.





About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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