How to lose a customer in 5 easy steps, motivated by a customer dis-service experience I had today with a company I pay lots of money every month for tech-related services:

<rant>

  1. Make a website with big promotional ads for cool, fast new services - where clicking the links will just take people in circles and never actually get them to a page with enough detail to decide they might want those services, OR a page where they can order. (This works especially well when it’s vaporware, or is at best only actually available in a few small locations in the entire country.)
  2. Hide the customer service phone number on a page that ISN’T linked to most of the pages a customer might typically browse - then list a bunch of specific, different-looking numbers that actually all route to the same stupid voice system. That way when they can’t reach you on one number, they’ll foolishly spend more time and get more frustrated by trying to dial more of the other numbers.
  3. Don’t publish your actual customer service hours anywhere online. Make those people guess at your work hours AND time zone.
  4. Offer live customer service chat, but design it so it only works in one browser; don’t publish the actual chat hours anywhere; and don’t bother making chat available during hours when the phone line is closed.
  5. Bury a link to an ‘email us’ page where it’s hard to find, then make the customer manually re-enter every significant detail of their account (ID, first and last name, service address, account passcode) as mandatory fields before they can submit their email. And limit that text box to 500 characters; that way people can’t actually give you enough detail to be able to expect you to solve their problem without playing phone- and email- tag for a week or two, after you’ve taken ‘up to two business days’ to respond at all.

Oh, and be sure you do all of these things even for real, current, paying customers who are already logged in.

That should do the trick. As soon as they find your competitor’s customer service phone number online, you’re history.</rant>