So you’ve launched a company revolving around a product that can truly help people. You have everything you think you need: you have a rocking website, several social networking accounts, great retailers, and the best communication system you can afford. Your products start selling like crazy, and you probably think that everything’s going perfectly.
And then people start complaining about you. They focus on your product on review sites, and criticize what you’re selling for the most minor of details. People post on your social accounts and call your hotlines to whine about your glitches. Then you start to get angry. Stop. Take a deep breath. Calm down.
Okay. Are you done being angry? Good. Being angry doesn’t help you, especially when facing people who are constantly finding faults in your product. Two outraged people working at cross-purposes don’t resolve anything. Whether you like it or not, YOU have to be the better person here; after all, you DO represent your business. So how do you do this?
Communicate with the customer (no, REALLY)
So you’ve set up a rocking timeline page on Facebook (because everyone says EVERYONE is on Facebook) and you’ve invested in a business VoIP phone system like RingCentral (because the review sites say it has ALL the features you will ever need). You’ve pretty much made your online accounts attractive and had your PBX set up to make communication more effective for both you and your customers. That should be enough, right?
It depends. Are you actually having conversations with the people who buy your product? If you aren’t, then you’re doomed. It doesn’t matter how good your merchandise is. YOU’RE DOOMED. You need to use those channels to figure out why the product is not working out for complaining customers, if you don’t want them to sabotage you. Thankfully, the path to understanding the situation is fairly simple:
- Pay attention – if you listen to or read the complaints carefully, you’re bound to see why people are so unhappy with your offers. It can be a matter of misunderstanding what your product can actually do, or an actual glitch in the unit that they ended up with. Either way, you need to pay attention in order to figure out what to do next.
- Have an established protocol, and explain it – One of the biggest mistakes that optimistic startups make is failing to plan for the worst in terms of customer reaction. Equally disastrous is not telling your customers how their specific complaints are going to be handled. Having a protocol for handling complaints keeps you calm; sharing the protocol with the customer-critic can keep him calm too.
- Follow up – While some businesses do fairly well with the first two items, this third item often falls by the wayside. That’s not good, because this is just as important if you want to have a good relationship with your customers. After you’ve resolved the issue, check in on the customers from time to time to see if their product experience has been improved. That shows you care, and buyers dig that.
Essentially, drop the ego
Remember, the complaints aren’t about YOU or your product. It’s about your customer and their experience with your brand. If you let your ego get in the way and put you on defensive mode, you’ll lose. It’s as simple as that.