I’ve been listening to the Social Media Marketing podcast for several years now. In the latest podcast with Jay Baer as a guest, Michael Stelzner and Jay have been talking about “Dealing with Unhappy Customers”. Jay Baer’s new book is called “Hug Your Haters: How To Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers.“, so the conversation has been fun, filled with case studies and other good stuff.
At the social media workshop I had with MTSU students a couple of weeks ago, we talked among others about Trip Advisor, and how to reply to negative comments. One of their questions was “Is the customer always right?”, and I loved Jay Baer’s quote:
The customer is not always right, but the customer is always heard. – Jay Baer (tweet this)
Baer says – and at LA76 we practice this religiously – that you need to answer every complaint, in every channel, every time. And when you reply, have empathy, be kind, be human. It’s harder to be angry at a person, than at a company. By receiving a human response to people’s complaint, problem or query, you can most often convert the unhappy client into a happy one, or at least provide what you need to solve the problem and give yourself / your company an opportunity for a second chance. Your reply to any comment, especially negative one, will be viewed not only by the person you’re replying to, but the entire community, so by showing that you care you communicate much more than just this one response to an unhappy client.
The other day I saw on Mashable a brilliant Trip Advisor reply from a coffee shop owner to a very unhappy client. It happened at Bennet’s Cafe & Bistro in York. With 432 “excellent” ratings on TripAdvisor, it’s ranked 11th out of 696 restaurants in the city. It’s been called “lovely,” “excellent,” and a place that offers “gorgeous” meals in recent posts.
One customer, however, bucked the trend. Hannah C. from North Yorkshire was so angry she was charged £2 for a hot water and lemon she took to TripAdvisor to vent her fury in a missive entitled “Over-priced and very rude staff.”
“This place is absolutely awful,” she began. Hannah, who was “on a tight budget,” took umbrage at the cost of her drink and got into an argument with a waiter about the price of lemons versus the price of a pot of tea, which she claims the waiter said is the same. “To show just how ridiculous this is, my friend ordered a slice of chocolate cake which was £1.90,” she added. Hannah left the “dreadful place” vowing never to go back.
In response, the manager decided to break down the economics of running a cafe for the money conscious customer, to explain why she actually wasn’t “ripped off.”
“You entered the cafe and the waiter showed you to your seat, gave you a menu, waited for a time and then took your order. He entered it into the till, collected a cup, saucer and spoon and took them into the kitchen. There, he selected a knife, chopping board, got a lemon from the fridge, cut off a slice and put it in the cup,” the response began.
The manager continues to break down the waiter’s tasks, estimating that serving the customer took two to three minutes’ work, before continuing:
I wanted to copy you the direct link to the review, but it looks like that after this got viral, the unhappy reviewer removed her review.
What do you think, do you agree that the customer is not always right? Are you listening to your customers, and replying to all comments, positive and negative ones?