Stop Doing Things Customers Hate

Here’s today’s topic: Stop Doing What Customers Hate. Yep. That’s right.

For your shop, do you even know what these might be? People want a better experience. For everything to be easier somehow. For you to do what you say you are going to do.

At a default level you have to have these things:

  • Customer Service – your company is helpful in every way possible.
  • Quality – production needs to be correct and with craftsmanship.
  • On-Time – this is based on their needs, not yours.

Those three ideas are table stakes. These are the basic expectations everyone has when working with you.

If you can’t be helpful, produce orders without issues, and deliver on time, then you have big challenges ahead of you for growing your business. However, those ideas are at the starter level in this industry. Getting those nailed is expected, but doesn’t really differentiate you from the competition.

Know Your Customer

In order to completely understand your customer, you need to be constantly talking to them. That’s how you find out what they hate or might make them angry. Yet, from my conversations with business owners and leaders in the industry, nobody really does this well. They are too busy doing other things, or maybe even too scared to know what the customer might say.

It seems better just to take the order and move on.

Don’t wait for your customer to complain about something. Take action now and work on improving. The first step is to reach out and have an honest discussion. Start with the top customers that bring you the most revenue. After all, it is in your best interest to keep them extremely happy.

Top Challenges That Customers Hate

Below is a list of ideas and things that might be problematic and drive that hate. Your mileage may differ, but you can start thinking about these topics and how you can improve them.

Your Webpage or Online Stores

Have you built your webpage with your customer in mind, or with you in mind? Is it easy to order and find answers? Do your customers even use it?

If you have online stores, where and why are people stopping using it and abandoning the sale or what’s in the cart?

Dig in and ask questions about this or use an app like Hotjar to determine user experience issues.

Delay in Responding

People hate waiting. That is a given these days.

So when a customer calls your shop, why doesn’t someone answer the phone? When they send an email, why won’t you respond quicker?

I get it. You are slammed. However, your customer only sees the delay in response as that you don’t care about them or value their business.

Don’t focus on why you can’t do something. Target how you are going to solve the problem. For example, let’s say you are a single-person shop and you can’t answer the phone when you are running production. What about getting a remote headset so you can talk and run your equipment at the same time? Or, even use a system so that after three rings the call auto forwards to an answering service with a live person?

Solve for “x”.

You Break Your Promises

Do you do what you say you are going to do? In their mind, when you accept the order that means that you accept all facets of it and agree to make it happen.

This includes deadlines. Print quality. How it is packaged and shipped.

Your customers don’t care about your problems or the other orders on your schedule. They only care about their order, as it is important to them.

Right now, I know of some shops that are over two weeks behind on their production schedule. There are a lot of factors involved here for those shops, but it doesn’t matter.

To a customer, they sound an awful lot like lame excuses. This is the reason why they go shopping for a new vendor.

No Appreciation

We work hard for our money. Your customers do too.

One thing that customers love to hear is how much you appreciate them. Do you have a loyalty program or do anything that shows that you care?

People hate to be ignored.

Don’t forget that your competition is right now trying to gain their business or attention. Do yourself a favor and don’t let the weasel in the henhouse. Send a handwritten card, some extra shirts, a free gift, or a sample pack of something with their next order.

Do something to show that you care.

Zero Empathy

Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying to do something and you can tell that the person you are speaking with behind the counter absolutely doesn’t care about you? We’ve all been there.

How did that feel?

Now, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How do you think they feel when they are working on solving a challenge with your shop?

Are you too busy quoting rules and regulations to stop and understand their situation? What are you doing to try to comprehend things from their point of view?

Your attitude and responsiveness to their situation will be in direct proportion to how they talk about you to other people.

The Stories In Their Head

What happens from a customer’s perspective when you don’t respond or the answer isn’t readily available?

They make up their own story in their head.

“They didn’t email me back right away, so I guess they don’t want this order.”

“It’s been months since I heard from them. I guess they went out of business due to COVID. Maybe I’ll try someone else this time.”

“Look at how the sample print was crooked. Will all of the shirts for the order be crooked too?”

You have to get on top of these situations. Being proactive is your best friend. Be prepared with an organized and professional way to handle challenges and work.

These days there are just too many tools that you can use to help you manage your customers better. Find out what you need to do by talking with your best customers, and then build out something better to help them.


“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton

“A complaint is a chance to turn a customer into a lifelong friend. I say that seriously, not as some press release baloney.” – Richard Branson

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” – Peter Drucker