Moving has a lot of perks: excitement about a new city, jitters about a new job, and creativity (read: spending gobs of money) on decorating a new apartment.
But moving also means canceling your cable and Internet, ending – and starting new – utilities, frantically searching for apartments, and, once you’ve found that apartment, lugging boxes from dusk to dawn.
That sounds like a bad dream. (And I’m living proof that it is.)
From a marketer’s standpoint, though, it’s more than a bad dream: The poor customer service associated with moving, whether intentional or not, is a nightmare.
So today, I present a six-step checklist to help you turn off customers and market like it’s 1999. (Side note: sarcasm and I hang out on the reg.)
1. Having a website is important; the usability of that site is not.
After Mobilegeddon, website usability – particularly on mobile – is more important than ever before. But apparently this isn’t accepted across all industries, or within all companies.
During our stressful online apartment hunting (really your only option when searching 10 hours away), we came across a website with beautiful apartments. Considering my boyfriend and I are both pretty particular about living situations (i.e., no rats), we wanted to actually see – not just read about – the units before moving forward.
Now, this site had an entire gallery of photos, so we were in luck. Until we clicked to view it.
Click ANGRY POUND click.
Nothing but the misleading call to action of “Please view our gallery!”
After abusing the left side of my laptop mouse for a good 20 minutes, we clicked away from that site, never to return again.
So, if you want to kill any chances of customers purchasing your products, make sure your website is as user-unfriendly as possible.
2. If the customer calls with a problem, provide 20 minutes of slow jazz before you answer.
Moving is the perfect time to buy a new mattress. You’re getting rid of a ton of stuff anyway, so why not throw an old mattress on top of it?
Or, per the city’s strict moving regulations, on the side of the curb on a specific day once you’ve called the city and made an appointment for its pickup. Apparently mattresses are only slightly less dangerous than explosives.
To schedule mattress pickup, I had to call the city and talk to a representative. Painless enough, I thought.
But I didn’t realize I’d be attending a smooth jazz concert.
The wait time to actually talk to a person was 20 minutes at best. So I got to listen to jazz – with some city advertising mixed in – for nearly half an hour. And considering they “forgot” to pickup my mattress on the scheduled day, I was lucky enough to call back for an encore before, again, talking to a rep to reschedule.
My takeaway? If your company’s phone wait times are longer than five minutes, look into either more employees or automated online options.
But, if you’re looking to keep customers away, then you jazz on, because that’s exactly what the busy customer wants.
3. Make sure the customer knows it’s their mistake – not yours. (Silly customer!)
To me, utilities are the kind of thing you set once, select autopay, and forget about. But what’s silent can often be deadly. (And I’m not talking about, well, you know.)
Once I easily transferred my old utilities back to my landlord, I figured setting up utilities at my new apartment would be a breeze. Wrong again.
When I talked with the customer service rep, he asked for my name, like any normal rep would do.
“Stephanie Vermillion,” I said confidently.
Then we got to the point where he asked for my email address.
“Vermillion.steph… Last name dot first name at Gmail,” I told him.
“What?!” he exclaimed. “You told me your first name was Vermillion, last name Stephanie!” (Umm, you serious, Clark?)
Apparently he asked me for my last name first, and my first name second. And he was beyond mad that, because of me, he had to reenter my information.
I won’t go into the fact that later in the conversation he again, blamed me, for not telling him it was at gmail DOT com (not just at Gmail, nothing else). Le sigh.
Long story short: If you want to induce the worst experience possible for your customer, blame them for making a mistake. If you want to make sure they tell everyone how much they hate your company, blame them twice.
4. Use your preferred communication method, not the customer’s.
Most full-time employees work at their desks with limited time to take personal calls between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. But most moving companies require prospects to submit phone numbers for a quote so they can, conveniently, call between their working hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
See the conundrum?
The simple fix would, of course, be to let the prospect choose the method of communication that works best (read: please, can we do this by email?). But as we discovered, that’s asking too much.
5. Never give information away for free, especially if it could drive sales.
As I mentioned in number four, moving companies require a phone number before providing a quote. Now, as someone who is new to moving, I simply wanted to know if hiring a moving company was in my price range.
I wasn’t at the point of determining which company or actually talking to – and being pressured by – a sales rep.
If the company wanted to turn prospects into customers, they’d follow Marcus Sheridan’s advice and answer the customer’s question “How much do moving companies cost” without seeking anything in return.
Marcus’ pool company made a killing off of one simple blog post that answered the question, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” Moving companies could do this, too.
But, yes. Answering a customer’s question is a bit too helpful. If you want to really annoy your customer, or keep them away from the get-go, don’t freely give away answers that inform purchasing decisions.
6. The less multimedia, the better.
When making a major life decision, perhaps a new apartment, people want to read, watch and look at as many details as possible. That’s why multimedia is integral to turning prospects into customers.
So why do some realtors list apartment units with just one or two blurry pictures?
Because they want to turn off those customers, of course.
Now, if they did want to intrigue apartment rental prospects to the point of purchase, they could provide a video tour of the unit, accompanied by a photo gallery (that actually works when clicked) of each room, a floor plan and information about appliances, pets, etc.
It’s a sure way to further prospects down the sales funnel.
But, as my six-step process shows, who needs a sales funnel in a world where turning customers off is the key to success?