In addition to their regular strategies for customer satisfaction and loyalty, businesses need to be on the lookout for service saboteurs. These are the people who ruin a shopping, dining or entertainment experience for other patrons.
"Customers don't just go to a restaurant to enjoy a burger," said Joel Anaya, a senior in Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University. "They go to have a good time, to enjoy the ambience of the establishment. If that's ever affected, if they ever leave liking your hamburger but saying they had a bad time, that's not a win for the restaurant."
Seven types of saboteurs
Anaya developed profiles of the seven types of saboteurs that can ruin a business' efforts even if they are providing good service. These include badmouthers, paranoid shouters, customers with poor hygiene, people who make outlandish requests, service rule breakers, bad parents with bad kids and unknowledgeable customers.
Badmouthers are customers who deliberately announce their dissatisfaction with the quality of service they are receiving. Paranoid shouters are similar in the way they voice their anger at the first sign of what they perceive to be a problem with products or services.
"It's crazy what a few bad words can do, how uncomfortable they can really make other customers nearby," Anaya said.
Customers with bad hygiene - those who smell, sweat or pick their nose in public - can ruin the experience of other customers and as a result, cost the company business, according to Business News Daily.
In fact, a study conducted by scholars from Iowa State University, Texas Christian University and Michigan State University found customers often loyal to businesses and products that attracted a customer base that looked and acted like themselves.
"Basically, do I feel like they’re the same type of person as me?" said the study's co-author Clay Voorhees. "Do they look good? Do they behave? These factors increase the likelihood of people returning to the store."
Because customer base can play a significant role in the success of a brand's customer loyalty strategy, attracting shoppers with poor hygiene and misbehaving children could deter other potential customers.
The last category of service-sabotaging customers include those who disrupt service by making outlandish requests, breaking service rules (skipping lines) or asking too many questions because they don't know about the products and services.
Although businesses can't prevent these shoppers from frequenting their locations and disrupting service, they should anticipate these customers and develop strategies for minimizing their presence.