Evan Goodman

10 Surefire Ways to Alienate Your Customers

When you have a steady stream of new business, it can be easy to take your eye off the ball with the existing customers. But a loyal customer base is an asset you cannot afford to ignore. Every sale you make to an existing customer will cost you less to generate than those you make to new customers. Your current customers will be working as unpaid brand ambassadors for you.

After a while, customers build an affinity with a brand. Consequently, they will forgive the occasional mistake. However, there are some things a brand can do that even a fiercely loyal customer will not ignore. Then, you lose a customer, and you gain an angry ex-customer who feels betrayed and is likely to take to social media to vent their anger. If you want to avoid that happening, steer clear of these 10 practices that will alienate your customers.

Sneaky Price Increases

In times of inflation, customers will not be surprised by price increases. However, they will not appreciate you raising your prices via the back door. A prime example of sneaky price rises is reducing the quantity of a product in a pack. Or, in a service industry, you might make a previously bundled-in service an optional extra. Another example would be hiking up delivery costs but keeping the product price the same. Customers will notice these underhand tactics. Consequently, it’s much better to be transparent about price increases.

Badmouthing Competitors

Most people don’t like badmouthing in any aspect of their lives. In recent years, typically on social media, there has been a general trend toward being ‘unkind’ instead of kind. A subtle dig at a competitor can be amusing. But openly badmouthing a competitor is a tactic doomed to failure. It would be better to highlight the outstanding features of your product or service.

Offending the Customer Base

News travels fast on social media. Try and choose your words carefully. Expressing opinions contrary to those of your customers, for example, will alienate your hard-won client base. In addition, publicly blaming customers for your mistakes will not go down too well. Remember, what goes on the internet stays on the internet. It will not be easy to recover your reputation once you have offended your customers. It takes years to gain a ‘rep’ but only minutes to lose it.

Ignoring Customers

Loyal customers repeatedly spend their money with you. In some cases, they may also have referred friends to your company. The least you can do is answer customers’ queries and respond to their reviews and comments. If you fail to acknowledge customer concerns, they will feel unvalued. No one likes to be ignored, especially by a company they have bought products from for many years.

Annoying Sales Tactics

Pestering customers is just as damaging as ignoring them. Yet many big brands regularly annoy customers with pointless sales calls and emails. Occasional courtesy calls to ensure that all is well with a customer will be appreciated. Advising customers on how to save money, or bring new products to their attention is often helpful. However, repeated, clumsy attempts to get customers to spend more money will alienate them. It is generally best to only contact customers when you have something new of value to offer them.

Lowering Standards

After years of top-class service, the best way to lose customers is to let your standards slip. There is no quicker way for this to occur than if you begin taking customers for granted. Standards can also drop if you cut costs. Therefore, it is advisable to monitor key performance indicators like returns and customer complaints to ensure that customer satisfaction is not on a downward trend. If you need to cut costs, reducing expenditure in areas that will not affect customers would be preferable.

Making Everything Way To Difficult

Sometimes, businesses make everything way to challenging. Websites that are difficult to navigate, for example, do this. Another example is customer service telephone lines that keep customers on hold for extended periods. Most people have limited time these days, and limited patience, hence, every aspect of the customer’s experience needs to be (relatively) fast and effortless to satisfy the modern consumer.

Hidden Costs

Hidden costs are another surefire way to annoy customers. Adding delivery charges to orders at the checkout stage is a typical example of this mistake. Another example is selling a subscription at a low introductory rate and then hiking the price a few months later. There is nothing wrong with offering low prices to attract new customers. For most customers, the notion of delivery charges is expected when ordering products online. However, try to be transparent about the total cost of any product or service.

Baffling Terms and Conditions

The legal wording of terms and conditions can be confusing. Consequently, many people agree to terms without reading them, even though they may contain crucial information. Therefore, it is best to adopt a policy of transparency in this respect, too. For example, you could explain any points that may concern a customer in plain and simple English on your website, such as a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section.

Failing to Deliver on Promises

Naturally, people won’t be happy if you make promises and break them. And sometimes, you can let people down inadvertently. For example, you might promise completion of a project by a specific date and hit a problem. The delivery of a product could be late through no fault of your own. These are examples of why it’s crucial not to over-promise and keep the customer informed of any ongoing progress. In addition, be careful how you oversell a product or service as it is likely to backfire.


It is crucial not to take the loyalty of your customer base for granted. We all know that once you have alienated a customer, it is near impossible to regain their trust and to get them to be a customer again. Afterall, it is more than five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain one!