25 Ways To Kill A Business

By Michael Abruzzese, Ph.D.
©Copyright 2021 Vista Health Services, Inc.

Posted February 12, 2021

“I wasn’t worth a cent two years ago and now I owe two million dollars” – Mark Twain

Psychology has lots of uses in everyday life and one of the most helpful uses, as well as being one of the most overlooked, is in business. However, most of the following warnings have been rendered moot by the consolidations of industries and the resultant lack of competition.

Put simply; the consumer has NO leverage over a business when that business is a monopoly. Case in point: ATT, Verizon, Sprint/T-Mobile. By now, just about everyone who has had a cell phone for many years has become so fed-up with their carrier that they have switched carriers: So did it help? Is the new carrier better than the old one? Did any complaint to your carrier get you better service? If so, I’d like to hear about it.

Most recently, after switching to ATT from Verizon because I was dissatisfied with Verizon’s customer service, I had the misfortune to run into some network or systemic problems with an Iphone XR dual sim. After literally hours on the phone with a variety of call center customer service representatives, the problem was resolved, only to re-appear a few months later. After more hours with call center reps, the problem is still not fully resolved. Has anyone else had such problems? My guess is that many have.

Of course, the problem might also be with the Iphone, not the cell carier, but how can you tell? Who would ever suggest it or even admit that possibility? In some big businesses, either big or small, secrecy (more politely known as ‘a lack of transparency’) seems to be the operating principle. The less consumers know, the less problems there may be for the business owner or greater Industry Group. This applies to any group – Health Care, Technology, Auto Insurance, Health Insurance, Banks, you name it. It even applies to some of your co-workers and work supervisors for the very same reasons it applies to Big Business. But more on that in another post.

And my next guess is that similar problems are encountered when dealing with any huge company, especially technology companies. That’s because NO huge company is much different when dealing with customer service problems – because they don’t have to be any better. Because the customer has no leverage. The only consumer with leverage to move a huge company is another huge company or the government. I imagine ATT doesn’t have any trouble getting through to the executive office of National Grid if they’re having a problem and I doubt that Comcast has difficulty reaching someone in Congress if they need some help. You? Probably not so much. But let me know if your experience has been any different.

So the best opportunity to resolve customer service problems is at the local level, with a local business, but even in small towns there are monopolies and it is not unknown for people to have been ‘blacklisted’ from employment opportunities or even form buying food or other products in such towns.

So maybe the solution is for you to start your own business? Remember, EVERY huge business – even ATT, for example – started a s a small business. It is when a business is small that the following list of “How to Kill A Business” is the most relevant. Because small business want to grow big and they can only di that by providing good customer service.

I know some may say that Venture Capital permits a “small” business to literally start big almost overnight, but it that case, it simply means that the business customer base is just smaller – as in, the people who lent you the money. If you don’t provide good customer service to them – and many entrepreneurs have lousy people-skills (also called ‘soft-skills,’ by business people who themselves usually have lousy people-skills) – you are soon out of a job at your sstar-up and a new management team is installed.

Following are the top 25 ways to kill your emerging online or brick and mortar business. These same “business-killers,” by the way, are also career-killers.

  1. Deny responsibility for any mistakes you’ve made
  2. Ignore the customer’s complaints about your product, service or attitude
  3. Treat the customer disdainfully, as though the customer owes you a living and is lucky you are selling to him/her.
  4. Never admit when you make a mistake or have misunderstood something
  5. Always the blame the customer when something goes awry
  6. Maintain a surly and condescending attitude when dealing with a customer.
  7. Make a customer wait because you were on the phone, doing paperwork or something else when the customer came in.
  8. Always focus on blaming someone, never try to understand what went wrong and never try to make things right.

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Michael Abruzzese, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist on Cape Cod and a former Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of Ten Lessons in Power Psychology; Psychology Tips and Techniques For People Who Would Never Visit a Psychologist’s Office. https://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Power-Psychology-Techniques-Pscychologists/dp/0991011708

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