What To Do With An Idiot Customer So You Don't Lose Your Cool
I've been running businesses online for the last 18 years and it still never ceases to amaze me how just one person, someone who in an everyday situation would be arrested for their behavior, but hidden behind social media, email and blog anonymity, can disrupt a situation so profoundly if you're not careful you could lose not only your focus but your cool. When you're delivering happiness and loving your customers, always remember that the customer is always the customer. Let's be real. The customer is not always right. The customer who wants to return something 18 months later because they've fallen on hard times is not right. They're irresponsible. The person who bought a weight loss program and continued to eat 12 pounds of BBQ ribs every single night with a side of 9 gallons of icecream but claims your product is bogus and doesn't work is still the customer, even though they are quite unstable, they are a paying customer, but they're not right.
So what do you do….. when this situation shows up. What happens when out of all of the millions of incredible people online, one idiot creates such a disrupt that you are on the verge of losing your cool? You know….
The person who calls your customer care line 17 times in one day and the reason they keep hanging up and calling back is they seem to think that if they get a different person they are going to get a different answer. They want you to guarantee what they're buying works. They want you to PROOOOOOMMMMIIIIIISSSSEEEEEE that your product is better than any of the other 1,829 they have tried.
Or the same person, who after they call your client care 17 times, also goes on your Facebook page and posts the exact same question 23 times on 23 different posts over the last few days. All in 1 hour. After they've already talked to your customer care manager, billing manager, they've called the HR department and anyone else they can get ahold of. Yes. That person.
Then they head over to your video channel, your Twitter and before you know it, they're sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and assaulting you with email threats and 'are you real or are you a scam' crap. The audacity that someone like this would ask an online merchant if they are real or a scam. Like I said, this kind of harrassment would land someone in jail for the night, if not for the month if they attempted this in a regular store. But we live in a day and age when anonymity gives the .0001% idiots rights to state their feelings.
So what can we do? Well I was recently speaking to an FBI agent, true story, about something totally unrelated and he reminded me of this fact: "Some of the wildest behaviours we see online are totally harmless because the person would never follow through on their actions or threats but some of the wildest behaviors we see online are totally serious and we need to take the person seriously because they have already been arrested in their local town and are now polluting the internet. Even while on probation." I was talking to the FBI agent because we've grown so large in the last year that every now and then, 1 in about 1 million, we have to report as suspected behavior. There are authorities that exist because there are .0001% people out there who need someone else to take control of them when they can't take control of themselves.
For those of you who were offended when I used the word idiot in my headline, please remember, they are the .0001% but let me help you get a good understanding here.
It's the person who wants to buy a weight loss product and wants SOMEONE to guaranteeeeeeeeeeeeeee that if they take this product that it is going to work. They want someone to guaranteeeeeeeeeeeeeeee that if they take your debt management class and before they fork out $237 for your course, they want a formal contractural promise that if they do what you said in this course (even though they aren't going to stop their frivilous spending on the side or eating 8 Double CheeseBurgers everyday for lunch but they are doing what you said) they want a promise, a reassurance if you will, a guarantee that this thing will WORK! The FTC states that such guarantees are ILLEGAL but you know, some people want one. They've rarely taken personal responsibility in life and even though they've never followed through on anything they've started, it's important to them that someone else take the blame, in everything, and they'll push your 'love your customers' and 'deliver happiness' buttons until you are nearly as insane as they are if you aren't careful. So don't go there.
Yes. This is the kind of person you refer to your competitor. This is when you send them across the street and let them know that Joe Schmoe down the road is the best person to serve them. Or you call the authorities.
But what if the won't go away? What do you do? What happens with social responsibilty, do you have to serve this person? Do you have a RIGHT to refuse to serve someone who behaves this way?
Five Steps To Protect Your Brand From The .00001% Customer Who Is Not Right
- If they are coming to your client care department, block their email and IP address. We currently use ZenDesk.com and can go into our administrator panel and block their email address. We can also go into our shoppig cart system and block their IP so they can't get to our site
- Go into your email list provider and unsubscribe them and block them
- Go to your Facebook page, as they've already posted 17+ times in an hour, and hit "BLOCK AND REPORT". Report for spam or harrassment. That will get them removed from Facebook and possibly even have their user priviledges revoked.
- Block them on Twitter if they start tweeting obscenities at you. Hit "Report Spam"
- Block them from your phone service. We use Grasshopper.com so that's easy to do.
- Keep your focus. Don't let it upset you. Pray for them, let it go and go on delivering happiness.
It doesn't happen often. It's not something to be afraid of. Boundaries are a big issue in life, in general, let alone in business. The boundaryless do not like people asking them to grow up, so don't expect applause or celebration from these rare few, but don't be afraid either. And……. go serve the other million amazing people who are changing the world online! YOU are called to more.