Let’s just throw this out there right away, some customers are jerks. There I said it and now if you are of the same feeling, you can walk away feeling vindicated.
But if you are in business for the long haul, that opinion is going to hurt your pocketbook and soul in a very significant way.
I have been self employed for a very long time (15+ years) and in all that time I have tried to be a steward of my company. I try to make sure that everyone who buys from me is satisfied to the best of my ability and that I am as accommodating as I can be.
And I am not the only one who is not angry at my customers all the time.
- Gary Vaynerchuk is the master of doing 49/51. Meaning that he gives 51 percent in a given relationship and expects that he will get a little less than he gives
- Apple has great customer service, providing their customers with a “Genius Bar” who are there to answer questions and a floor full of staff who are eager to talk about their products
If you come from a place of wanting to please your customers and give them a great buying experience, then you are probably going to have less a-hole customers. Just my opinion.
Dog Piling Fear and Anger
So I have been doing a lot of ecommerce lately, listing on Etsy, Ebay and Shopify. With that in mind, I joined a bunch of Facebook groups and user boards to see what I could find out about marketing and fulfillment.
But I can’t really go there very often. Too often when I check into one of these sites or pages there is a post full of vitriol and anger towards some buyer. Today’s was enough to send me over here, to my calm and peaceful site to write about it.
Seems that older woman (70+) had accidentally bought a gift certificate from a shop owner for the wrong place. Her daughter in law had really wanted a gift for somewhere else so she asked for a refund. AND CUE THE FEAR… there must have been 20 comments about how do we know she is really that old and she still has the voucher and what if she is trying to rip you off and on and on. AND THEN THE ANGER… who does she think she is to take money out of your pocket, enforce your return policy or the sky will fall and you will wind up penny-less in the streets.
I find that many of the shop owners spend inordinate amounts of time talking about what return polices are or those customers who send something back in not so great condition or whether the buyer had malice in their heart.
For me, it always seems pretty clear what to do. Return the item, take back the sale, remember that they may come back or that other people can sometimes see what is going on.
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Stop Picking The One Hurtful Thing
On Amazon there are people who love my books and some that HATE EVERY WORD and wish that I have never been allowed to pick up a pen. My blog has had haters and people have said mean things about my offerings and sometimes my appearance. When I speak in person they hate that I cuss or that I wear blue jeans.
Now hearing all this, you might think that every encounter I have with the public is terrible. But those are the exceptions.
In fact, when I get comment cards from speaking, overwhelmingly I get great reviews and one or two “helpful” comments from people about how I could use my hands less or talk more slowly.
So when I am hearing comments about my products, that is seriously not as harmful to my psyche than knowing someone hates my laugh or my words.
It is super easy to only focus on the one mean person among the tens or hundreds of nice, happy people, but if you are going to sell in public, that is what you have to do!
You Should Not Be Frenemies
Now think about seeing “caller blocked”. You think, “oh crap, probably a telemarketer and I am going to have to go to battle with her”.
I have a feeling that most small business owners have conditioned themselves to think that there is something wrong when a client or customer emails or calls. Their knee jerk reaction is that something bad is about to happen.
Your customers are not Frenemies who you should pretend to like, they are the lifeblood of your business. They will tell their friends about the great customer service you give and how wonderful you were to work with.
If you answer that phone or email thinking, how can I help them today? you will have a much more reasoned response.
Never Respond In Anger, Hurt or Shame
I rarely get upset with my clients anymore, but just recently had an incident where one stepped over the line and emailed me in a way that is just not okay. There was anger and blame in that email about something that was their fault, but they were taking it out on me.
At first my reaction was to take the blame or to get pissy back, but I tried to stop that. I took a day, sent a measured response that was okay, maybe not great but one that I could live with…
and then I fired them. That is right, you do have the right to fire people who are not polite or respectful. I finished something they needed and then politely told them I would not be working with them anymore.
There is nothing wrong with setting healthy boundaries and letting some buyers go.
Never Make Excuses
I have worked with people who will take months (years) explaining why whatever is going wrong is not their fault. They will tell you about their family life or computer breaking down. They will curse their fate or bemoan the universe, but spend all their time trying to find someone else to blame.
That energy is so scary bad for both the seller and the buyer. The seller is busy defending themselves without reason and the buyer knows that they have a battle to fight with an entrenched enemy.
Not a great start or finish to a commercial transaction. Just say you are sorry, do what you can to fix it and move on!
Righteous Zealots Tend To Get Beheaded
Over the years taking a huge stand for a cause has sometimes not turned out that well. That said, I am all for standing up against tyranny and oppression… I just don’t find all that much tyranny and oppression as a small business owner.
Being willing to die to stop segregation is an admirable quality, being ready to die to uphold your return policies seems a little over dramatic.
You can be right and lose business. You can spend your time defending your honor or suck it up and go make more great stuff.
The Whoo Whoo Bits
So thus far I have stayed on the side of the angels, just using reason and logic. But I am going whoo whoo now too!
I really do think you can manifest things (like in The Secret) and what you wish for is what will happen.
So if you are spending all your time in the groups and on the boards bemoaning the fate of your brethren sellers, crying about how unfair each little slight is, you are opening yourself up wide to invite those kinds of people in.
Thinking about bad customers = getting bad customers
That is why I said I “couldn’t” go to those pages often. I can’t take the chance of getting hooked into some drama or getting some bad story stuck in my head, sitting there churning around about how horrible humans are and how they are going to try to rip me off and then steal all my business…..STOP!
I prefer to fill my head with inspiring and uplifting things. To learn new marketing techniques and find out what people are doing right, instead of focusing on the wrong! I KNOW, that makes me sound all PollyAnna-ish but honestly, I have had LOTS of customers and clients over the years and have enjoyed the heck out of 99.9% of them!!!
Ecommerce Customer Service
When you know the person on the other end of an email, it is hard to be nasty to them. When you see a client’s name come up on the phone it is easy to think, “oh that is my entrepreneurial friend Dave” instead, “oh crap, what now?”
If you really think that your Ecommerce store policies are a war between you and THEM for dominance and power, then you might want to rethink your business.
Oh and stop jumping into all those conversations about bad customers. The internet is a weird place that warps our perceptions, thinking that everyone feels exactly the same way we do.
Shrug that icky karma off and start loving on your customers today!