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That Guy’s Tips for Corporate Success, #20 September 4, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Tips for Corporate Success.
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Your customers will make threats to stop using your product or service. This is normal, and is not cause to spring into action.

CC-licensed photo by Tim Samoff

CC-licensed photo by Tim Samoff

Recently, a TV show my wife watches fired their host and hired someone new. My wife does not like this new host. She has threatened to stop watching the show. She has threatened to send e-mails or make phone calls.

She has done none of these things. Every day when I get home the show is on my DVR. Every day she complains about how much she hates the new host. But she keeps watching.

I’m sure she’s not alone.

I see lots of angry e-mails from customers appended to frantic requests for changes or updates to websites. I — and my salespeople — often go back to the customers and try to calm them down. People fear change, and anything that changes on their favorite website is automatically a bad thing. Even something as simple as a color or font update can turn the most loyal customer into one of the loudest detractors. Companies are scared to death of bad press via Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, and they should respect people on those sites, but you don’t have to change everything just because someone complained. Why mess up your tested, planned, approved business model just to please a loud, annoying social networker?

The better option is to treat those vitriolic e-mails as just that: vitriol. People often have to express their frustration in order to calm down and move on. Let them be frustrated. Then, if you want, send a polite letter back thanking them for their opinion. If you feel like it, tell them why the change was made — or just blame it on the corporate office, as I’ve done on more than one occasion.

Most of the time, angry customers just want to know they’re being heard and acknowledged. Do that and save yourself a lot of trouble.

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