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The 9 fastest ways to piss off online shoppers

The 9 fastest ways to piss off online shoppers David Zaleski

There are many ways to make customers angry, and today you don't even need an employee to blow it for your brand. Online commerce is one of the main ways consumers shop, and there are many things you're doing that could be pissing them off.

Disgruntled customers don't become repeat customers. Here are the simple ways you're damaging your standing in the market.

Charging for returns

If a customer buys your product (especially if you gave them free shipping) and wants to send it back because it's not what they were expecting, why would you charge them for the return? Just because a customer returns your item doesn't mean they hate you. However, if you make it a pain and costly to return a product, you can all but guarantee that the consumer will look somewhere else to find what they are looking for. Your shipping and return policy should be simple and ideally free. The backlash to do otherwise is just too great.

Jen Brady, CEO ad president of Fred & Associates, speaks with iMedia about why charging customers for returns is one of the fastest ways to offend them.

Not providing meaningful reviews or product information

In today's world where consumers are empowered to get honest feedback from other people about your product, don't appear like you're trying to hide something. If you're burying customer reviews, ratings, and comments in hard to find places or links, it looks really bad for your brand. Of course, no brand likes to hear negative feedback on its own site, but transparency is always the right way to go when dealing with the public. Consumers will form positive feelings toward your brand even when negative reviews are presented openly and honestly on your site. Don't think by hiding them that you are doing your company a favor.

Devora Rogers, senior director of retail and marketing insights at Inmar explains why transparent consumer reviews and feedback are vital to saving your company's image.

A poor internal search experience

Nothing frustrates people more than when something does not live up to their standards. Online, the search bar is king, and Google has spoiled us with an awesome, reliable way to find everything we look for. However, many brand websites have search functionalities that leave much to be desired. Does your search area constantly bring up null results? Is it intuitive? Does it help the consumer or just show them exactly what they spelled? In a world where people Google words they know they are spelling wrong just to find out how to spell it right, you need a smart search algorithm that practically reads the consumer's mind.

Jeff Campbell, co-founder & managing director for Resolution Media speaks about why a poor internal search function is detrimental for brands.

Providing bad customer service

This is a simple practice, but an important one. Providing poor or absent customer service to online shoppers is a sure-fire way to get a lot of people angry. In a world where social media has made brand interaction so easy, consumers are used to communicating with brands directly and don't like not having access. Your customer service needs to be top notch, it's the main way customers interact with you and it will leave the most lasting impression. Bad customer service in today's environment is a good way for your brand image to start to eroding.

Jay Allen, VP of internet marketing for FoodSmart, talks about why skimping on good customer service is bad move on a brand's part, and what you need to do to be seen positively in the eyes of online shoppers.

Providing a frustrating site experience

Sometimes you need to go back to the basics to understand what you're doing to annoy potential online customers. Look at your entire site experience from a consumer's point of view. Is it intuitive, easy to navigate through, and providing relevant information? How simple is it to conduct a transaction? How many layers of obstacles are between an interest and a purchase? Take a fresh look at your brands experience online from a different perspective and fix glaring issues.

Misrepresentation of the product

Again, honesty is key when interacting with online shoppers. If you're boasting features about your product that don't represent the truth, the consumer will find out about it. There are hundreds of trusted websites people can visit these days to get honest reviews. They don't have to take your word for it anymore, so lay off the lying.

Michael O'Hanlon, Wayfair's VP of corporate & business development, speaks with iMedia about why your site experience should be easy and intuitive, and your product descriptions should be truthful if you want to avoid online shopper backlash.

Interrupt them with a poorly timed message in an effort to help

People want help when shopping online, but you must approach it tactfully. If you're bombarding your site visitors with ill-timed pop-ups, chat windows, and other tactics in an effort to help the consumer, you could be annoying them to the point where they go somewhere else for the product. You want to provide a good experience by offering help, but be wary in the way you do it. You don't want the consumer to regret visiting your site because they have to click out of so many supposedly helpful options.

Few people know how to give real and well timed help to online shoppers like Dan Herman, CEO of ChatID. He speaks about chat windows, and why it's important to make sure your active efforts are relevant and provided at the right moments.

Pushing them toward a product that's not the one they want

Obviously, marketers want people to buy their products as much as possible. Online it's easy to bombard consumers with new offers, up-sells, and extra value. However, if you do this too much or even start to push a shopper further from where they want to be, you can see real backlash. Keep your additional promotions at a minimum until the shopper buys the product they came to your site for. They will be more interested after the fact anyway.

Diane Bunton, marketing director for Dell, Inc. speaks to iMedia about why driving shoppers to other unwanted places can do more damage than good.

Poor response when the product is damaged

Marketing doesn't just end after the product is sold. How a brand responds when there is a problem is very important to your image. Yes, you want to keep the money, but you could end up losing more of it by providing a horrible response to a customer complaint. A customer might go to a review site on a rampage. Be helpful, nice and apologetic when there is an issue and actually try to fix it.

Ron Cox, director of consumer marketing & planning at SpartanNash talks about why it is so vital for brands to have good strategies in place for dealing with an angry customer who has a problem with its product.

David Zaleski is the Media Production Supervisor for iMedia Communications, Inc. and Comexposium USA. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Film & Television Production, specializing in editing, animation, and...

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Commenter: Franchesca Nguyen

2014, July 31

And having to pay so much for shipping and handling.