|Contemplating getting out of business|
sitting here trying to figure out if I need to get out of business OR outsource my customer service.
I've found that I no longer have any (none, zero, zip) tolerance for stupid people. I can no longer be nice to people who simply do not deserve it, I've had it with some people and their sense of entitlement. Why do people think they can be a'holes and you're supposed to kiss their behind? There is no longer any amount of money that is going to make it ok for me to eat crap. I really enjoy almost everything about what I'm doing right now, the computer work, I.T., seo, content, product development, and I will bend over backwards to help a *humble* customer, BUT those customers who start off their contact with "you suck" or "what a rip off" (few and far between thankfully) get an earful and I no longer feel the least bit bad about it. </endrant>
maybe I should just get over it...
(frustrated typing tends to lead to extra s's)
[edited by: limoshawn at 1:08 am (utc) on Jul 7, 2011]
Being able to fire customers is the joy of being self employed. Don't let it discourage you, revel in it.
But there's a fine line between firing customers and turning them into fans.
Here's what I've done. I bend over backwards for clients, even difficult ones. Their money spends as well as anyone else's. And I assure you, I deal with some pretty prickly clients (housewives, academics, gov't regulators in my industry, employees at my competitors' offices :) ). But I have a hard rule - and I mean it's hard. If I wake up in the morning 3 days in a row thinking about you or your problem, I have that problem resolved by the end of the 3rd day - with little regard for the cost or what it takes. If you're causing me grief that I can't resolve, the third day you'll get a call from me telling you to take a walk - and I'm done. It's not perfect, but the 4th day I wake up not necessarily happy, but satisfied that it's resolved and behind me. And the 5th day, I've forgotten about it. Sometimes it's cost me a grand or two to implement this 'policy', but I've never regretted it.
that's part of whats worrying me a bit, used to be that I would feel bad if I was short with a customer, these days I no longer have that device between the brain and mouth that restricts what is said and ripping into an idiot actually brings me happiness. I feel like I'm on a mission to let mean people know that they are not entitled to good customer service. Has nothing to do with the money, refunds generally go out before I respond to them (although I never actually let them know they got a refund).
Your's is good advice Wheel, I just don't let it go that long, my rule: refund, tirade, happy. I guess you could say that I get my money's worth!
The Person On The Other Side Of The Counter Is Always Wrong. This applies just as much to e-commerce as to live business. Hasn't it struck you that when you're the customer, you're dealing with an awful lot of idiots? And then when you swing around to the other side of the (figurative) counter, suddenly the idiots swing around to their other side.
How much would you lose if you adopted a global policy of "You don't like the way I do business? Well, tough"? If you have a terrific product they'll come crawling back when they discover that everyone else is worse. Better the evil you know, et cetera. What proportion of your customers are really, truly imbeciles? Probably hardly any. It just feels like a lot.
Stick with homegrown customer service. If you end up telling them to get lost, at least they'll get a warm fuzzy feeling from telling you in return to eat ###, knowing you understand every word. (No fair hanging up on them or slapping the Hold button. Just quietly lay the phone down and go about your business.) Outsource, and your customers will be dealing with someone who obviously doesn't know or doesn't care. As a customer, you end up feeling frustrated even if they manage to solve your problem.
And then go read Shirley Jackson's short story "One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts".
|What proportion of your customers are really, truly imbeciles? |
There was an essay called angels & devils customers (or something along those lines) stating that a small minority of bad customers can monopolize a majority of your support time and it was more economical to tell them to get lost than trying to satisfy them. Keep the other 95% sane ones and make them happy. There are real jerks in life and they'll continue to be jerks if people always bend over backward with them. And then there are the mentally unstable ones trying to suck you in their delusions. Better hang up real quick when you spot them, or never respond to their emails.
As a customer I don't come across idiots, an incompetent here and there but no real idiots. I think this may be because I'm a good customer. If I have a problem with a product or service my first concern is finding out what I can do to to make the product or service live up to my expectations, basically how can this be made right. The customers that I am no longer nice to fall into one category, they have one of 3 phrases (if not all 3) in their very first communication:
1. this sucks
2. rip off
the first 2, maybe immaturity, maybe they just have no other way to express themselves, I don't know, just not going to put up with it. The 3rd one, "refund", in my book is the worst and not because of the money. A normal person does not start off their communication with a business looking for a refund. When a normal person gets a product or service that doesn't quite meet their expectations or maybe they don't fully understand they look for help before looking for a refund. If I buy an oil filter for a car and get home to find out it's the wrong one I go back to get the right one, I don't go back demanding a refund.
as it is right now I only get about 1 of these people a week, 1 out of every couple thousand customers, so it's not a huge issue other than the fact the I didn't used to enjoy being mean...
About six month back I started actively asking customers for feedback and point them to review websites and ask them to post reviews. All the postive feedback and hundreds of reviews I have received since then not only promote my business, but also help me when I have to deal with the ocassional idiot customer. Because I know he is the exception and not the rule.
You would be surprised how many satisfied customers are only waiting for an opportunity to express their gratitude and satisfaction for good service. So give them an opportunity to do this and you will cope with the occasional idiot more easily. I know I was surprised about the number who took the time to rate my website or write a few short lines about our service.
I also have the feeling that if you have lots of good reviews people are more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt when something goes wrong. Because they also realize that you are not trying to rip them of but they are the exception and not the rule when a mistake happens or they have a problem.
jecasc: very true - in fact I read recently that if you solve a problem for a customer that customer is more happier than a normal customer with no problems.
A recent blog post, I can't remember where, mentioned confronting the customer with the laundry list of why they were being 'fired'. The post's author had a few turn around and actually became human again.
Might save a part of those that you feel need brain transplants.
I don't make my living in the SEO business, but my employment agreement contains a section laying out reasons why I can fire my client. It has been officially invoked only a once in the past several years, although I've pointed it out a couple of times and the clients straightened up.
Limoshawn, could it be that you're not charging enough? I suspect idiot customers with a sense of entitlement are more likely to be looking for something for nothing, or very little, and a price hike might filter them out somewhat.
The customers that I am no longer nice to fall into one category, they have one of 3 phrases (if not all 3) in their very first communication:
1. this sucks
2. rip off
I remember when I worked for a major bank, back in the days when customers talked to their manager not to a call centre, we had to be nice to every customer. Some customers were really dumb and immediately started shouting about lawyers - without that the manager usually gave way but as soon as the "L" word was used it went to our legal department who would fight back.
I will, however, be writing a letter where most of those words will be implied to my bank very soon, as they required two head office departments and 3 weeks to perform a transaction that took three days to deal with manually in branch in the 70s.
|and a price hike might filter them out somewhat. |
You are correct Rosalind, as we have raised the prices over the years the bottom feeders have been weeded out. We are at a price point right now for this product that is at the very highest end of the ROI scale.
also, as for the "sense of entitlement", just so that's not taken out of context, I firmly believe that the customer IS entitled to a good product and good customer service. In my opinion they are NOT entitled to good (read: polite) customer service if they are rude or obnoxious. It always makes me chuckle when a customer writes in saying "what a rip off" "product sucks" "you bunch of thieves" and I respond letting them know what idiots they are they come back saying "wow!, how dare you talk to me like that?", that's the sense of entitlement I'm talking about, they expect that just because they are a customer that they can act however they want and we are still supposed to kiss their behind.
A place I worked we use to hung a transcript of the stupidest customer phone call, its great we all used to pray we got it. Before that well no one wanted any.
Cust: Im standing in a phone box.
Me: Yep ok.
Remember, all of us business owners are in the business of customer service. Yes, there are customers that are more difficult to deal with than others but you have to approach every customer complaint as an opportunity to make improvements (because chances are if one 'problem' customer is complaining about something, 10 others have thought about complaining but didn't).