- receiving too much attention
- receiving too little helpful attention
- rudeness (note how cross-selling is ahead of rudeness? You can
politely try to sell people things they don't want, but from a customer
satisfaction point of view you'd have been better off just swearing at
- poor returns policy
According to AdAge "about three-quarters of the 1,300 people surveyed in
December 2006 said that annoyances have prompted them to walk away
without making a planned purchase of $50 or more". Moreover 70% of customers said they would shop elsewhere "if the competitor does not cause their most troubling service annoyance and the favourite retailer does not eliminate it".
See a familiar pattern here? Retail moves online not just because prices are lower or choice along the long tail is greater - the annoyances of being sold to are absent also. (Hence, perhaps, the particular detestation that is reserved for the bait-and-switch merchants that occasionally crop up on shopping aggregators and in paid search - the horror that despite our concerted efforts the salesmen have followed us here.)
I've commented before that some of the biggest commercial success stories online are those where the web helps buyers minimise unpleasant encounters with salespeople: property, recruitment, cars. (An aside: perhaps Amazon makes so little profit because book buyers won't pay a premium to avoid bookshops.) And of course advertising, where the unprecedented success of Google's automated ad booking system owes a little to the measurable effectiveness of the ads but perhaps also a little to the way it lets buyers avoid unpleasant interactions with salespeople. I refer again to David Weinberger's wise words:
"What appears to the business to be its 'added value' turned out to be mere inefficiency in the customer's eyes."
Too many retailers seem to be locked into a strategy of harvesting their dwindling customer base for whatever short-term gains they can wring out, and disregarding the long-term defection of their customers to a medium where - they ardently hope - no-one will try to sell them anything.