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How to Lose a Customer
How to Lose a Customer

Recently, I attempted to purchase a dress from a maternity store. Before I could give them my money, they required my due date, e-mail, mailing address, phone number and wanted to know if I had other children. I laughed out loud, but the woman’s puckered face quickly showed she wasn’t joking. I explained that I didn’t want to be put on a mailing list and thought it was beyond invasive. She “patiently” explained it was necessary in case of returns.

They lost me forever at that moment. Not only did I give them fake information, but I was extremely offended that the store I was paying would require all this information. I would never go back in there, nor will I ever purchase anything for any of my friends/family again. I also spread the word about this outrageous privacy invasion, which turned off other mothers to be (a.k.a. their customers).

Requiring information from customers only works if they see an overt benefit—something that will make them want to hand over those treasured nuggets of marketing gold. Not only did they ask about my children, but I was in essence paying to be harassed. The only benefits I got were a cute, but probably over-priced, dress and a red face from anger.

That’s the key lesson for marketers and businesses. People are willing to let you into their lives and buying habits, but you need to reward them and slowly dip your toes into that pool. Plus, the bigger the prize, the more you will get from them. No one will give you their life story for a throwaway trinket like a pen or key chain. And the more the customer feels forced to give information, the less likely it will be valid or worth the sales you just lost.