It happens to the best of us. No matter how hard we try to be perfect, all of our businesses are comprised of fallible human beings, and humans occasionally make mistakes. And smart marketers know that the way we plan for and recover from those mistakes can make the difference between creating a loyal customer and a brand antagonist who will go out of her way to tell her colleagues about her awful experience with your company.

Understanding what is truly important to your customers—what they like, what annoys them and what criteria they use when making a purchase decision—is key to meeting their expectations and helping you determine how to best smooth things over in the event that you drop the ball or otherwise fail.

Blis Survey Gives Insights Into Consumer Fancies, Forgiveness

In mobile location company Blis’ recently-completed a survey of 2,000 US consumers, the majority (71%) of respondents not surprisingly indicated that a brand’s price and product quality were of utmost importance when determining where to do business.

Most respondents also agreed that they’d give a brand one chance to make a mistake before taking their business elsewhere; however, it’s worth noting that both millennials and those with incomes between $75-200K were seemingly less patient and less likely to forgive, and more quick to take their business somewhere else at the first sign of trouble—unless they “liked the brand”.

How many chances do you give a company to make a mistake?

What does this mean for marketers, especially those targeting the young and the affluent?

  • Be extra vigilant: Of course no one sets out to make a mistake, but adding another set of eyes or delaying a campaign until you have all of the info you need may be a smart decision. Err on the side of caution with these audiences.
  • Invest in relationship building: More than anything, your customers want to feel special—especially these customers. Spend the time and the money making these customers feel like VIPs and you’ll earn some leeway.

What Turns Consumers off Brands

The survey also asked respondents the specific things that brands do that annoy them or turn them off, and consumers gave us marketers an earful that, at first listen, seems like it’s sending us mixed messages. Consumers want us to reward their loyalty, but not in a way that feels “overly intrusive” or makes them feel like we’ve been watching what they’re doing over their shoulder. Let’s break that down.

What turns you off brands?

Striking the right balance between “personalization” and “not too much” is part art, part science and part putting yourself in the shoes of your customer and asking yourself if it passes the “what the heck” test. The test is simple: if you find yourself saying “what the heck?” when you finish experiencing the personalization, it fails the test.

For example, if your favorite shoe site emailed you a custom coupon for the great kicks you left in your shopping cart, would you say to yourself “what the heck?” after reading it? Probably not. But what if that same shoe site emailed you a “Night Owl” coupon that was for shoppers like you who visit the site only after 2AM? Or if they emailed you a promotion that showed you a list of your Facebook friends who like similar shoe brands as you? What the heck? Ewwww. Too much.

Avoid striking out with your customers. The best advice here is to use common sense and employ personalization when you have something of real value to offer, not just employing personalization for personalization’s sake. Just as with other things that were once marketing “innovations”—emails, social media, etc.—the more it’s used (and overused), the more we train consumers to completely ignore it and have to work even harder to get their attention in the future.