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What do you do with the troublesome customers?

    • 97 posts
    January 17, 2007 5:32 PM EST
    So what do you do with the troublesome customers?

    Is it true that the one who pays the least complains the most?

    On another though similar note, are people who are receiving a free service entitled to complain? Are they being ungrateful or are they giving you valuable feedback? Is feedback always valuable?

    Could it be possible that the one guy who asks you to change the shape of your ice-cream cones because he finds the existing design too "messy" really a good person to let guide you?

    To whom do we listen the noisy minority or the silent majority?
    To whom do you listen? Shouldn`t you be listening to your customers? What if the only customers who respond with feedback happen to be four like-to-complain-about-everything type of person? Is his/hers the type of feedback that would help you improve your product next year?

    I`ve been in some interesting situations lately and I`d really like some advice from the nation.
    yourNAMEinDotCom2007-1-17 23:35:16

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    Get Your Name in ".com" at the International Internet Authority

    • 97 posts
    January 18, 2007 3:46 AM EST
    Keycon, thanks for the advice!

    I do always thank the complainers. That`s always the opening line. Not only people with complaints but also with any kind of correspondence. Hey, look I just did it with you.

    You`re right I need to be more specific about the situations. Here goes:
    1. I offer a free Breaking News service from one of my websites for people living in a small country. Some people ask to get more news. Others ask to get less and still others seem fine with the way it is. Let`s say it`s six different people with those three different views, out of 600 or so subscribers. What would you do in a situation like that?
      • As a side note, this particular service sometimes has political news and people with political affiliations may want to complain about the "quality" of the news. The question is do I listen to them or are they just being politicians?
      • As another side note, what do I do with the subscribers who want to get cheeky as if they`re paying for something? Or someone who uses your uncensored message board to make irresponsible statements? Do you block the user? Kick them off the list or let them stay because they make up the numbers?
    2. I`m a volunteer on a neighborhood group. We had our AGM just the other day and out of a room of about 30 or so, about 3 people came to the meeting angry and fired up and started to bark instructions at us (the volunteer directors), when they themselves aren`t doing anything and wouldn`t volunteer to share any of the work. What should we do in a situation like that? You see, the volunteers, who are obviously not being paid but trying to do good, may get discouraged and think to themselves, "Why am I working so hard? Why am I even bothering to volunteer if I`m going to have to put up with all this?" and eventually no one will want to volunteer. Curiously, after the meeting about the exact same number of people came up to me to lend their verbal support. So to whom do I listen? The loud-mouthed 3 or the three who quietly came after to lend their support?
    I have my own ideas on how the above should be handled but I`d really appreciate some advice from this community of entrepreneurs to know if I`m way off or spot on.

    Hoping to get some advice,
    Aleem
    yourNAMEinDotCom2007-1-18 9:57:8

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    Get Your Name in ".com" at the International Internet Authority

    • 97 posts
    January 18, 2007 6:54 AM EST
    ElidS, thanks for your advice too!

    Now what happens if after you change your ice-cream cone to suit that one customer, the 599 others who buy from you stop buying and go to your competitor who has the traditional shape?

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    Get Your Name in ".com" at the International Internet Authority

    • 97 posts
    January 18, 2007 12:17 PM EST
    Before this turns into a general discussion on customer service, I`d really appreciate any answers to just this question:

    Imagine you own StartUpNation and you send out a weekly newsletter.
    • John writes in and says he wants more than one newsletter per week.
    • Anne writes in and complains that she`s hearing from you too often.
    • Mary writes in and says you`re doing a great job.
    You`re willing to be flexible but you only have time to put out one newsletter.
    So to whom should you listen?

    (P.S.: If you poll all of your members, the results come back the same 33% for each option.)

    What next?

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    Get Your Name in ".com" at the International Internet Authority

    • 97 posts
    February 2, 2007 2:33 AM EST
    Thanks for the replies.
    I find myself returning to one of them this morning.
    Very useful.

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    Get Your Name in ".com" at the International Internet Authority

    • 20 posts
    January 19, 2007 4:04 PM EST

    Ok, I have to jump in on this one. Almost all of my day job experience is related to customer service. There is a formula for handling difficult customers:

    1. Listen to the customer. Let them say whatever they want, no matter how bad it is. If they are being disruptive in front of other customers, move them into a private office and finish the conversation.

    2. Acknowlege the customer`s experience. Tell them you can understand why they are upset (even if they are being a total jerk about it). At this point, many customers calm down just because they know that you care. Sometimes that`s all they want is for someone to care.

    3. Find a way to make it better. Ask the customer what you can do. Usually they will just say something like, "Just give me my product on time." More often than not, the customer will have an idea that costs less than what you are thinking. Assure them that you can correct the problem, and that it won`t be an issue in the future.

    4. If the customer asks for a discount or something for free, give them credit toward your product or services. This makes them have to come back, and gives you a second chance to make a good impression. It also costs you less than flat out giving their money back, because you pay for the wholesale costs, not the retail costs. It also makes them happy so they don`t complain to their friends as mentioned by previous posters.

    5. If the customer absolutely insists on having their money back, give back what you can. Of course, if they have some of your merchandise, get that back in exchange for the money. Tell them you`ll give them the money when you get your wigdet back. Try to offer other solutions first. This is a last resort though. Of course, sometimes giving their money back and cutting ties is worth it because you don`t have to spend more time on the person, and you don`t have to get into a legal battle.

    As a response to the 33% newsletter question, in that situation, I would ask Mary if she has any friends that would also like the newsletter. I would apologize and explain the situation to the other two customers and hope they understand why I chose the frequency I do. Obviously you can`t please everyone all the time, but most of those people realize you`re a person too, so they will get over it, or they will move on. And of course, this is why most advice tell new business owners to find their niche, so they know of a specific type of person they can please.

    • 343 posts
    January 17, 2007 5:47 PM EST

    DotCom:

    Man - you ask a lot of questions. Maybe shorten the list - just a suggestion

    Maybe you can be more specific. This is a broad question pool. But here`s a few answers:

    All feedback is great. Some customers need to be fired. I listen to all customers. One complainer will usually infect 17 customers. The complainers can do more damage than many, many "content" customers. I listen to the noisy minority but the majority rules ... some folks just like to complain ... that`s life. Good customer "feedback" is not always in a survey ... you read between the lines, you spend time with them in relationship building. Good customers have to know that you honor and trust their advice - you tell them this. It is about them. Once they know you honor them, they give honest advice. It`s about relationships. You learn to cull ... real well. But always thank the complainers.

    R@

    keycon2007-1-17 23:51:38

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    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 15 posts
    January 18, 2007 7:49 AM EST
    All feedback is valuable. Everything should be taken into consideration. It may not be feasible, but it should be considered.

    The customer who you describe "complains about everything", often is the person who shares similar thoughts to your silent majority, but actually has the gall to say anything. Sometimes it`s a case of the blind leading the blind.

    You`ll never please everyone, but pleasing the majority is the key. Maybe you need to figure out how to get the "silent majority" to give their opinions...

    As cliche  as it sounds, the customer is always right. Especially if your customer is complaining about your company`s customer service. I`ve had so many horrible customer service experiences. But customer service is almost always the deciding factor when it comes to where I spend my money...

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    HYBRID Digital Media
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