We like in an age where customer experience is a major point for any business – one could say it’s one of the major aspects that every business should address even before they launch their product.

With reviews and experience sharing being so commonplace today, party thanks to social networks, it’s not that surprising that bad companies lose their customers quickly. A single negative review holds the power to deter thousands of prospects from doing business with a company.

Negative customer experiences are the big bad wolf of every startup. Only a few are enough to drop sales and force a business to close.

Why do negative customer experiences have such an impact?

Negative reviews weren’t such a big deal earlier, but today, they pack a more powerful punch. Today’s world is connected, and we already have generations that have grown up with access to the web from early on. They will easily find negative reviews and won’t go out of their way to write their own experiences online, often on social media, so that they help others.

A truly professional business will ensure a great customer service, because, just as a single negative review can deter prospects, a positive review can bring more of them.

Importance of customer experience

Regardless of whether you run a brick-and-mortar store, a service-oriented business, a home-based business, every interaction with a customer builds their experience. Their experience will start forming as soon as they visit your website, call your company or visit your store.

A good first impression is crucial, but you have to deliver every time. A good first impression won’t amount to much if that will be the only positive experience.

The only surefire way to know what customer truly think about you, your services or products is to ask them! Avoid making customer feedback an afterthought tacked onto the end of the process. The customer experience extends after the purchase process has been completed – one could argue that their experience truly begins after the purchase.

Analyze your general customer experience process to determine if the customer is asked for feedback at multiple stages. Also review your use of this feedback. There is little need to ask for the feedback if you fail to act on the constructive criticism that you receive.

Learning from bad customer experience

You may invest so much time and energy into your business that any negative feedback can be taken personally. It could make you feel as though you have failed in some way. However, this feedback is actually valuable and beneficial. When someone has taken time to tell you where you let them down, you have the incredible opportunity to improve. This is especially important to a small startup because you cannot afford to continue to repeat the same errors going forward.

You may have decided to start your business out of your home. After all, there are numerous benefits associated with doing so. For example, you have reduced overhead with lower operational costs, the ability to better manage your work-life balance, the ability to more easily and quickly launch the business and more.

Generally, home-based businesses face more challenges because of their specific nature. One such challenge is that achieving and maintaining customer loyalty is often difficult. There may be various reasons for this. For example, smaller and home-based businesses may not actively request feedback and act upon it in the same way that larger companies do.

Unfortunately, more than half of consumers state that they will not do business with a company if they had a previous bad experience with it.

While many of your customers who had a bad experience may never return, you can learn from your errors so that future customers have better experiences. Negative feedback is a positive opportunity for change and growth. More than that, it helps you to focus your attention specifically on the areas where you need to improve.

These are a few of the more common customer service mistakes:

1. Being caught without an answer – When customers contact your business about a question or a concern, they want you to take time to listen to them. They also want to receive personalized attention to address their question or concern. While canned responses are not bad per se, if they are not beneficial, your customer may feel unimportant or even angry about the interaction. You can think through situations and common questions or concerns, and you can educate yourself about answers. By doing so, you will have a knowledgeable response available.

2. Long response times – Nobody likes to make calls that go unanswered or send emails that take forever to receive a response. Both of these instances are infuriating to customers, especially when coupled with an unresponsive website, or a website that is lacking basic contact information. Remember that your customers are busy individuals, and they do not want to work with a company that does not value their time. Chatbots and AI can help you cut down on those response times.

3. No empathy when assisting customers – When disgruntled customers contact you about a problem, they want their concern to be addressed in a professional manner with a prompt response. If you or your team is perceived as being rude or aggressive rather than apologetic and helpful, your customers understandably will be angry. Empathy is key – listening to their issues, acknowledging them and doing everything you can to find a solution.

4. No compensation or apology – There may be instances when you owe an apology and compensation to a customer because of a bad experience that they have had. The compensation should be large enough so that it is reasonably adequate or appropriate, but not too large. Vouchers, discounts or coupon codes are a good way to solve this. If this compensation is too low, your customer may be insulted by rather than grateful for the gesture.

5. Being difficult to reach – Customers should be able to reach you quickly to discuss their questions and concerns. Ideally, you will provide them with multiple methods to contact you – by phone, email or chat. Customers should be able to locate all communication options quickly, and they should receive an immediate response regardless of the method that they use. If a certain method takes longer, be sure to write it next to it.

You can be proactive and try to identify issues with the customer service experience on your own, but you may gather more detailed and accurate information by asking your customers for feedback. Avoid taking any feedback personally. Look at all feedback as being positive and beneficial because it provides you with the opportunity to improve your services and products.

Michelle is a writer and a solopreneur who enjoys cycling, fitness and mixing-up smoothies. Always interested in ways which can help individuals reach full potential in life, she enjoys producing stories on productivity, lifestyle, and entrepreneurship. Outside her keyboard, she enjoys visiting cozy coffee shops and taking long urban strolls. Connect with her on Twitter.