by Julia Ahlfeldt (@JuliaAhlfeldt) Keeping customers happy should be the no. 1 priority of the brands they buy from. Yet, this isn’t always the reality. Here are my don’ts that every brand shouldn’t do.

1. Don’t be creepy

While every online brand worth its salt is pumping budget into online media spend, remarketing and experience personalisation, it can get a little Big Brother for customers-to-be. Unless they work in a marketing agency, they’re unlikely to understand why a brand they were once thinking about suddenly pops up on every site they visit.

Following a potential customer around the web or sending an email after they’ve abandoned their shopping cart can be intrusive, considered creepy or down right weird.

Making sales is essential to any business’s sustainability, but marketing too hard can come at a cost. Instead of stalking would-be customers and going overboard with ‘just for you’ products, take a step back and put yourself in their shoes: sometimes they just want to shop around or browse before they buy. Let them.

2. Don’t misunderstand millennials

The mysterious consumers that every brand is trying to woo. Among their many mythical personality traits is that they are eco-warriors and love to support a worthy cause. While this may be true, so it is too of older consumers: According to the InMoment 2018 CX Report, while 58% of millennials care, so do 55% of gen Xers and 51% of baby boomers. Don’t give them credence they don’t always deserve.

Another big don’t is to think that they only shop digitally. The truth is they’re omnichannel creatures who spend their coveted disposable cash both at bricks ’n mortar and ecommerce stores. That said, they are more likely to have a lower threshold for hassles and appreciate shopping experiences that are simple and easy.

Finally, remember that millennials are a generation, not a segment. Yes, there are often themes of consumer behaviours that vary between age groups, but these generational groups aren’t homogeneous. To design a great customer experience, understand the customer’s point of view, which is multifaceted and goes far beyond age.

3. Don’t be a robot

Despite the rise of robotic responses from brands on social media, consumers sometimes want to talk to a human. When they do choose to make contact, it’s most likely because they have a complicated query that requires skilled assistance or they’re seeking a human connection with the brand. Be ready for this and invest in staff training and knowledge upskilling to deliver the desired experience — or become the brunt of a bad joke on social media.

4. Don’t get the basics wrong

Being aesthetically pleasing and on-trend in store is one thing. But, no matter how cool the tech or how trendy the product, at the end of the day, consumers want their purchases to work properly. No amount of flashy gimmicks will cover up sub-par products; brands from banks, electronics, insurance to retail must make sure they’ve got the basics covered. Only then should they wrap them up in fancy bells and whistles.

5. Don’t peacock

Avoid the hype. Big-budget campaigns may make brands look exciting, fashionable or game-changing but, if they can’t live up to this at the till point, they’ve just baited consumers to buy from them. No one likes to be ‘had’.

Consider banks. Most are guilty of peacocking. While an aspirational and inspirational ad can positively position a brand, make sure it is also rooted in reality.

6. Don’t disrespect the customer

Customers don’t like it when they feel a brand doesn’t value their business. At a bare minimum, customers want (and probably deserve) a baseline level of respect. The next step is acknowledgement. Customers like to be recognised for their loyalty and can get annoyed if it is not reciprocated by the brands they buy from. Relationships are a two-way street; if the customer feels neglected or wronged, they might just walk away.


Julia AhlfeldtJulia Ahlfeldt (@JuliaAhlfeldt) is a certified customer experience professional (CCXP). For more must do’s and don’ts on how to keep customers returning again and again to buy from your brand, listen to her podcast, Decoding the Customer. She contributes the monthly column “The CX-Files”, which looks at current issues from a CX perspective, to MarkLives.

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