My fave was having a customer ordered a product well past midnight and then hassled us on the phone a mere 8 hours later because the product hadn't arrived. Oh, and it was a Sunday too!
Most of the time when a customer gives us a hard time it is to cover up a mistake they've made because they didn't order a product in good time before they actually need to use it.
You know whats amazing, my business partner pulls her hair out worrying and fretting over rude, obnoxious customers. About 6 months ago I told her to forward any rude, obnoxious emails to myself and I would deal with them personally.
Every single email i've gotten I lay on the apologetic, nice, we screwed up voice even at times we havent screwed up and every single email has turned into a nice order.
Now for the phone customers, I want no part of that LOL
Oh, I've used the apologetic tone to great effect myself. This lady-it didn't work. Some people are aware of their error, but will latch onto an apologetic tone as justification to shift the blame from themselves.
My favorite part: She emails at 4AM (my) local time demanding that I email her our return address. No matter that it is listed prominently on our site-she wants it emailed. At 6AM, she emails again, stating that the fact that all her previous emails to us were answered within 10 minutes makes her suspicious that we are trying to avoid accepting the return. She will initiate a chargeback if she doesn't get an email with our shipping address within the next hour.
Two hours later, (8AM local time) when I arrive at work and read her emails, I reply to her with the relevant information-noting that it is all readily available on our site, and that her emails were received at 4AM and 6AM respectively, local time.
But, my email address has been blocked.
So, now I'm waiting to get back the $1000 item she ordered, which I express shipped to her at no additional charge because she was in a hurry. And I'm waiting for a chargeback notice.
Reason for the return? She ordered the wrong size.
SSgumby ... I am that guy in our office.
Its amazing that as soon as you admit fault the customer has nothing else to complain about and its back to closing the sale.
However, earlier this week I had a customer who was absolutely brutal, exactly as described in the first post. This person was a "professional complainer" and apparently was practiced in the art of getting stuff for free. There was nothing wrong with the product either, they just did not like the "look" of it. They suggested that because I was a Canadian I was purposely ripping off Americans with our substandard product. Which was hilarious ... because the product is American made ... and in their State 50 miles from where they live :-) . Then accused me of blaming the problem on Americans.
At that point I cut off the communication and said to return the item at their expense and we would issue a full refund. Never heard anything else.
Luckily all my ecommerce involvement involved people in the same time zone. It is a problem with the web that people forget about time differences, office hours and different public holidays in other countries.
Slightly off topic but on the forum for a British Columbia based hosting company I came across a post from a UK customer complaining that his monthly bandwidth hadn't been reset. Posted at five to midnight in Vancouver not to mention regular posts by people upset that their billing queries weren't sorted out at 3am on a Sunday morning. (Tech queries have 24*7 support, billing is down to the office staff)
@akmac I had your customer's cousin yesterday. After UPS damaged his shipment he called me up to let me know that he worked in law enforcement and my fraudulent act (letting UPS damage his shipment?!?) would not go unnoticed.
I had to carefully explain to him that I did not own UPS, and that I had already filed a claim and prepared the replacement for his damaged one.... some people.........
I am not a good apologist...I get cheesed too easily.
I have to hire someone to do the feather-smoothing.
So, I validate your feelings 100%. Fortunately, I have become trained to hand off ridiculous customers before I tell them where to stick it.
The vast majority of people are decent, honest and great to deal with, but there will always be a few that spoil it for the rest.
They lose you time and money. My trick is to feel sorry for them - they'll be suffering from insecurity, ignorance or some other personality defect that will make their whole life a difficult struggle.
Offer them the quickest and easiest route out and don't take anything personally - it's their personality defects that are causing problem not you.
PS - for anyone selling on eBay that advice especially applies - they offer no protection at all against these people, and you will not be able to warn other sellers.
I remember being told that "the customer is always right" is only a partial quote of the original phrase.
Not being able to remember the exact words, it was something like "the customer is always right when he chooses to buy from you". Not when he wants to return something, not when he complains, he is only right when he buys from you.
"The customer is always right" places are the very ones who are dropping like flies in the current economy.
Traditional furniture stores, car dealerships, other places where the owner has bend over backwards, dropped prices all along, kept double inventory so Joe could have it yesterday, to satisfy every customer need no matter the cost.
When the customers started cutting back, or going elsewhere, they we suddenly not always right anymore.
MrHard - that is a bold, sweeping, false statement.
We try hard to follow the customer is always right and we are still strongly growing and are very profitable.
I cant say that we dont occasionally lose a customer, but we try very hard to make it right for them even when it hurts out bottom line for that specific customer. Most times that customer gives us much more business by word of mouth.
On the web, customer always right cant kill you fast if you fail to deliver or build you fast if you over deliver.
When someone says "The customer is always right", what they really mean is that their organization is willing to endure a measure of abuse as long as the perceived reward is (at least) proportionate. A customer sheds his cloak of infallibility the moment it is determined that the potential benefit of retaining his good grace$ (lifetime value, potential referrals, etc) is outweighed by the cost.
Don't get me wrong- it's a very useful maxim. We use it ourselves-with the customers we want to keep.
Some customers are an asset, and others are a liability.
I do live support myself and thats what most of my reliable customers love about our services. Recently, one of the customers would bug me too much. After a few days, I clearly told him to listen up about using my time. I am not a $5 a day ebay tech support. Every customer gets 15mins per week. Now, he may use those 15minutes either for solid questions that will help him or use those for junk talk. Thats up to him. It truly worked on him and he is doing fine now without all the questions.
These people have personal issues or insecurities.
I try to be as nice as I can, if not, I have someone else write me a reply I can send.
There's a limit to how much the customer is right, before you find yourself bending over for them.
This is way out there but here goes:
For customers you are having problems with, or who keep bugging you, or if there is any personal tone in the dissatisfaction.
Reply to the email with a different name, so it looks like someone else or a co-worker is answering who happens to not be working that day, rather then yourself. I use an alias of someone I respected that I used to know.
The problems stop every time, immediately, with no further problems.
Customers who do heavy duty comparison shopping, who beat you down on price always do the same thing whenever they buy however well you perform for them. Consequently, you had better make money on each sale, including the support and return cost, because the next time will be exactly the same. The idea that you can "buy" a customer with the first sale and then have a lifetime of profit at list price is rubbish in my humble opinion. If a customer beats you down the first time, then expect them to do so every time, but next time the starting point for negotiation will be the price they bought at last time.
She just emailed describing how upset she is because FE has not yet delivered her return. Asking me (in all caps) what was going on.
I would just slip out of the office, remove my glasses, and quickly change into my cape and spandex- but a proper phone booth is nearly impossible to find these days. Instead, I recommended she call FE with her tracking number.
I realize that posting all this here is quite self serving and passive-aggressive, but it's also cathartic. Thanks for listening!
Perhaps this thread can serve as cheap therapy for other vendors who have a customer who is not always right.
Ok, let me add this one. We send out email coupons occasionally, 3 to 4 times per month.
We get an email reaming us asking how we dare send a coupon the day after this guy places his order. He says I should send it right before he orders.
I calmly email him back and explain that we send to 15 thousand people at a time and we couldnt possibly send to each individual person individually. I gave him a coupon I know of and told him where he can find them on the web in between times we send them out.
He promptly apologized and said "I am a customer for life, thanks for your prompt reply".
Just wish I could deal with my distributors/manufacturers as easily :-/
Sometimes people just want to be acknowledged... I had one the other day where a guy that ordered on Friday found out his item wasn't sent out already on Monday and went ballistic... Said that was bad business. I told him he shouldn't go by the time it leaves, because we don't charge extra for priority and basically tell people stuff will get there on the average of a week. Our shipping costs are very reasonable, and I myself order stuff all the time that has high shipping costs, and is only UPS ground that often takes well over a week. So I told him that I was sorry he felt that way, but I didn't really understand how getting his item in less than a week 3500 miles away was considered "bad business". He apologized and said he was just eager to get it. He later posted a positive thing on a forum after he got it. So you never know. I think the worse thing someone can do is ignore people. I would never do that, no matter how crazy they are. That's what creates internet stalkers that follow you around for years.
I tend to get more annoying complaints from men, then I do with women who are customers. I would have thought it would be the other way around, but 4 years later it's remained the same.