I think some people are born to complain.
We’ve all been acquainted with, or at least come in contact with, this type of personality at some point in our lives.
It seems that if the person is not registering a complaint, he’s out of character.
It’s sad because we all tire of constant criticism and a negative attitude, even though we may be good friends with the person.
But this type of personality can be damaging to a small business in a number of ways.
First, and maybe foremost, dealing with complainers and critics takes valuable time away from execution of daily tasks by the business owner.
Trying to satisfy this kind of customer is almost a losing battle.
He will drain your strength and energy and cause you to deal with his many demands (which take excessive time and sometimes money) even though you have tried to be reasonable and fair.
Complaining prospects are the same – in some ways even worse – since they don’t add money to the business unless they can be pacified and converted into a customer.
If the complaining is done in a public setting, like on a forum, at your web site, or in a group discussion somewhere, the negative comments can lead to other prospects questioning your business or product.
It doesn’t matter that there may be no truth whatsoever to the complainer’s statements.
Seeds of doubt that are planted in other potential prospect’s minds are difficult to overcome.
Often the critic will ask for his money back, or more. So the action you take may be that you end up reversing a sale or getting a chargeback to your credit card merchant account.
Some businesses refuse to deal with difficult customers.
It’s no wonder!
They simply cut them loose from all business ties (like mailing lists, customer registrations, member accounts and future promotions).
They say it’s not worth the added time and pain that trying to keep these people happy will take.
I would suggest that cutting them off ought to be an option, at least, but never the first action taken by the merchant.
If you can turn a complainer into a friend, or a satisfied customer, you may have the greatest testimonial spreader you could ever imagine.
These folks tend to be vocal and social in everything they do.
They will curse you without end or sing your praises to anyone that will listen!
What better testimonial could there be for your business than to tell the before and after story of a detractor that has been converted to a disciple of your business?
And it will come across as truthful and hard-hitting if the story is told by the complainer himself!
How do you turn a critic into a friend?
It’s simple: you address all his complaints to his satisfaction and you leave him feeling like your really do care about him as a person.
It may mean that you swallow a little pride and the usual competitiveness you might feel inside at the heat of the moment and give in to his views or demands.
You may have to return money to him.
You may have to admit that he’s right, even though he’s not.
Remember, “the customer is always right” . . . or so they say! None of us actually believe that do we?
Often, it’s the business owner’s willingness to give some personal attention and “above and beyond” customer service that wins the complainer over.
You may not be able to solve his problem, but the fact that you tried and made an effort to help the customer is sometimes enough to stop the complaining.
Be a good judge of character (which comes with experience in handling irate customers.)
You have to learn to tell the “honest complainers” (those who genuinely believe they are right) from the “dishonest cheaters” (those that know they are wrong and won’t admit it in order to get a free product or some other benefit they know they shouldn’t have.)
So the next time you have to deal with a complaining personality type that could be disruptive to your business, bite your tongue and try to be extra nice and over-assist in solving the dispute – whatever it may be.
And be sure to try to offer some incentive to get a testimonial out of the person while the issue and resolution is still fresh in his mind.
If you make a 110% effort to rectify whatever might be the problem, and it still persists, then is the time to cut ties and move on!
To your online business success,