Shaming Customers is Never Productive

Have you ever had a customer who was unresponsive, inconsiderate or unreasonable? Frustrating customer behavior is a reality of the sales profession. How we handle it defines us as sales professionals.

It may seem obvious that “punishing” undesired customer behavior is never an option; yet, it is a tactic deployed too often in the form of customer shaming. Make no mistake, conveying to customers any indication of disappointment or disapproval is a form of punishment, and it is never productive.

A customer recently shared her experience with Starbucks, in which she received notification from the company that because her purchase activity had dropped in recent months, she was being downgraded from the “Gold Level” to the “Green Level,” and her “Star Account” had been reset to zero. Ouch. Instead of providing incentive (in the form of a gift card or coupon) for the customer to regain “Gold Level” status, the company took punitive action. Now, Starbucks has gone from having a customer with reduced purchase habits to a devout non-customer determined never to patronize Starbucks again, as well as a customer who is sharing her negative experience with others.

How sales professionals deal with rejection or difficult customers is a telltale sign of their perspective and overall sales capability. Sales professionals who take disappointment personally are clearly operating in their own “Odds Are.” Sales professionals who are focused on the customer and the success of the customer’s organization are better able to frame behavior in terms of its impact on the client, rather than them or their own organizations.

When it comes to guiding customer behavior, always use the carrot. Keep your focus on maximizing your value to your customers, and positive results will follow.

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