On today’s hyper-competitive landscape, consistently deliver exceptional customer support and service isn’t merely a best practice for profitability: it’s an essential requirement for survival. Indeed, research by Walker Information highlights that by the year 2020, customer experience will be the number one brand differentiator, surpassing conventional heavyweights price and product.

Yet with this being said, it’s also the case that many businesses are doing things that dent, damage or outright destroy good customer relations. Obviously, these errors are 100 percent unintentional. But that doesn’t change the fact that customers are getting frustrated — and increasingly, are heading for the exits.

Below are the three chronic customer experience sins that drive customer crazy:

  1. Not Having a Mobile-Friendly Website

Despite the fact that more people access the web via smartphones and tablets than desktop and laptops, a surprising number of business websites aren’t mobile-friendly. For example, they take excessively long to load, eat up an immense (and needless) amount of data, and are difficult — if not impossible — to navigate, since buttons and tabs disappear in the margins, and anyone without a stylus is out of luck trying to pinpoint a link with surgical precision. It goes without saying that bounce rates for these mobile unfriendly sites are extremely high, which is great news for the competition.

  1. Putting Customers on Hold

In general, customers loathe being placed on hold. The bad news here is that it’s impossible to completely eliminate this scourge from the business landscape. The good news is that according to hosted VoIP phone system provider Votacall, business can use VoIP features like direct-in-dial, one-number-service, hunt groups and ring groups to maximize the likelihood of having a human being say “hello, thank you for calling, how may I help you?” instead of a recording say “your call is important to us, please stay on the line and your call will be answered in priority sequence.”

  1. Selling instead of Consulting

Much has changed on the business landscape over the last decades and especially over the last few years, but this principle remains as true today as it has for centuries: customers dislike (if not hate) being sold, but they certainly enjoy buying.

As such, whether a business is in the retail space or B2B, and whether their sales cycle is measured in minutes or month, all staff involved in the selling process (and usually not just sales reps) need to focus on leading a consultative sales process. This means actively listening to customers, asking relevant questions, and learning about their needs and goals before offering answers and proposing solutions.

The Bottom Line

The need for businesses to be customer-centric — or better yet, make that customer-obsessed — is only going to intensify in the future. That means the difference between businesses that delight their customers vs. those that frustrate or drive them crazy is going to grow starker and clearer. Businesses that lead the way will ensure that none of the above are part of their customer experience — period!