Sometimes you encounter a customer or even a stranger who has something rude, mean or irrelevant to say and won’t stop until you’ve heard it… for hours and hours and hours. Over time you’ve found you’ve become intolerant to these people no matter if they’re online or offline. Maybe you ban people from your Facebook page at the first sign of trolling.
While annoying, these situations have to be handled politely just like every other encounter you have with the public. Just because you perceive these troublemakers as annoyances doesn’t mean the interaction has no value at all. In fact, you may be wasting a valuable opportunity.
Why Should I Care?
Why even take the time to talk to someone who’s just there to make trouble? Shouldn’t you just delete the comment or tell them off and move on with your day?
Whether you like it or not, these situations can quickly spiral out of control if you don’t handle them correctly. Just because you think someone has posted an inflammatory post on Facebook to make you mad, they may have a legitimate complaint. If you just delete it, you could be in for a lot of long nights.
Suppose you get the same messages each day telling you your business stinks because your prices are too high. After a while you can get testy and respond viciously. However, if someone comes along with a legitimate complaint about your prices and you bark at them, not only will they take their business elsewhere they may post your response elsewhere. This can be a huge problem if the story gets picked up.
You have to treat each encounter with a customer as its own separate exchange. A friend of mine had trouble recently with a poorly received commercial campaign which resulted in angry Twitter messages all day long. Although he wanted to, my friend never got angry at any of the users, even though some were clearly just joining in on the “fun.”
However, just because he was kinder doesn’t mean he was a pushover. My friend believed in the commercial campaign and felt nothing wrong had been done. In fact, the whole thing was due to a misconception in the wording of the commercial. He stood his ground – apologized for the misconception, but apologized – and stood firm behind the message.
Eventually, everyone cooled down, and the commercial was seen in a better light. Of course occasionally he still gets angry messages on Twitter, but since he treats them all fairly they usually calm down shortly after.
If he had resorted to flipping out on his angry Twitter followers, the whole situation may not have gone so smoothly. It could have easily led to someone creating an entire Internet campaign to destroy his business (see United Breaks Guitars). On the other hand, my friend also could have backed down and suspended the commercial he worked so hard on. By treating the situation delicately, he was able to come out on top.
Word of advice: make sure what you’re defending is worth all the trouble!
What are some situations you’ve handled poorly in the past?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab three free ebooks, including the Big Press Release Book and Twitter Tactics, here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/freebooks.html