Canadian Rental Service

At Your Service: 10 ways to lose a customer

By Russ Dantu   

Features Business Intelligence business

It never ceases to amaze me how many employees don’t seem to understand that they receive a paycheque because of customers. Sometimes, the way they treat customers is like they never want to see them return again. Like they are an inconvenience and just disrupting their day.

When hiring employees, sometimes we need to remind them of how important the customer is to them having a job. If you truly want to lose a customer, here are some guidelines your employees can follow to ensure they are never bothered by anything customer-related – or business-related – again.

  1. Never answer your phone when it rings. Always make the customer leave a message and then take your time returning a call, or better yet don’t bother ever returning the call.
  2. When a customer visits your office avoid eye contact or recognizing they are there, especially when you are with someone else. There is no point in getting their hopes up that they might actually get some service sometime soon.
  3. If you see someone who needs service, turn the other way so they cannot see you. Hiding is an excellent way to make sure you don’t have to speak to someone. Make sure you are in range of an aisle or door at all times so you can quickly slip away. Sticking your head into an open box is also a great way to avoid contact and look like you’re working at the same time.
  4. Pass the buck. If something has gone wrong and the customer wants to talk to you about it, don’t let it happen. Make sure you pass them off to someone else and then have that person pass them off to someone else.
  5. If you cannot provide them with what they are wanting, never refer them to another company who can. Going above and beyond would be silly. The customer may actually come back if you do this.
  6. Always be sarcastic. If people ask silly questions, they deserve sarcasm. Use this as often as you can and hold contests with other employees to see who can do it the most each day.
  7. Under no circumstances ever smile at a customer. This will lead them to think they may be valuable to your business.
  8. Never post contact information on your website. This will just lead to people trying to connect with you. Make it as difficult as possible for a customer to reach you or the proper department they need to reach. If they find a general phone number to call in, do not give them the option to talk to an operator/receptionist. Give them a long list of options but never the option to speak to a live person. If they press zero, make sure this leads to having the call cut off.
  9. When things have gone wrong, never tell the truth or admit guilt. Be as creative as you can in making up stories. Hold monthly contests and offer good prizes for the most ridiculous excuses offered to upset customers
  10. If, for some reason, the customer tricks you into helping them, take as long as possible to do this so they will never want to come back again. Ask lots of silly questions like you don’t understand what they want. Walk around slowly pretending to search for something. Maybe even stop to chat and joke around with other employees while the customer is waiting.

Obviously the list above seems absolutely ridiculous but I continue to observe or hear of these practices actually taking place. There is no quicker way to destroy a business than to follow the steps above. If you don’t want your business to be one of the hundreds that leave the market each year, I recommend you share this list with your staff so they understand the importance of treating customers like gold.

Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer servicce for over 15 years. For more information, visit or email


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