And, Sometimes the Customer is Right

My last post was a little negative, and it is always better to balance negatives with positives. So here goes…

Although the Internet and email in many ways seems to make it far too easy for customers to send off complaints or demands, it has also provided a very strong medium for companies to gain insight into consumer wants and needs. While some of these harsh messages may be a bit hard to take (especially for sensitive sorts like myself), the truth is that they are actually extremely helpful in understanding product perception. If someone decides to take the time to email a company with a complaint/concern/suggestion, then there is some real power in that product. I mean really, how many times have you tried a product and found something about it that you didn’t like – taste, texture, ingredients – you name it? It is pretty unlikely that you contacted that company to voice your concerns. Chances are you just stopped buying that product, and maybe you have even shared your negative opinions about it with others, but, not with the company. Meanwhile that company just proceeded with the same formulation thinking their product was great.

So, while I still do belive that demanding free product from a company is wrong, I do now understand that sharing your opinion (particularly when tactfully stated) is very helpful for the company and for other consumers who share similar concerns. For thost marketers and customer service people who receive these emails, my advice is to take them seriously and treat them with the utmost respect even when they are demeaning and rude. I can honestly say that I have appeased many customers with a simple, timely personal response to their message. The consumer frequently acts shocked that they received any response at all, let alone one received within 24 hours. Surprisingly, even the angriest customers often show respect and gratitude for the opportunity to be heard.

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