Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Business Musings: "I'm not happy, and I'm telling!"

One of the fun (or not so fun) parts of being a merchant is dealing with customers. Most of them are pretty cool. They are interesting to talk to, fun, positive people who are enjoying your hardwork. And then there are those that are not so cool, and they happen to be rather loud.

If you haven't worked in customer service before your secondlife shop, it can come as a bit of a shock. Even a seasoned worker might find them difficult to deal with from time to time. But the specific sort of 'sucky customer' I'm talking about today is the " I'm not happy, I'm telling!" kind of customer.

This particular sort is the kind that buys something, then complains to you that they are dissatisfied with your product, and threatens to tell all their friends not to buy from you. They do not give you any additional information aside from that they are unhappy. They do not give you a chance to help them, or give you any sort of useful information as to how you could make your product better. They may have several reasons for disliking your product. This can include price vs precieved value, expectations from your advertising falling short, a bad permission peice, something missing, etc, but this sort of customer doesn't tell you specifically why they feel the 'buyers remorse' and feel the need to threaten your business.

Of course, when threatened the first instinct is to get defensive. But lets look at this from a slightly different perspective. While yes, the individual may have a circle of friends, they are not the be-all end-all of clients in secondlife. You have to remember for each client that objects, you've satisified a fair number more. So obviously, whatever the problem is, its likely fairly specific to that client. And their threat is actually not so big of a deal. They may tell someone not to shop from you, but people have a morbid curiousity. Sometimes controversy can be your friend in the advertising world. People when told NOT to go somewhere, almost always will, if nothing else to simply check it out for themselves. They might not buy that specific product they were warned against, but they might well find something else they like. Either way, there are fresh faces in your store without you do any of the work.

The 'boycott' threat of these sorts of customers tends to get under the skin of newer, younger retailers than older, established ones. A younger retailer, especially one that doesn't have a lot of established customers might feel that this person can actually hamper their business. However, it is my experience that most of these people are not sufficiently well connected or credable enough to do anything other than spread your name around.

In terms of customer service, you should probably see if the disgrundled individual can elaborate on why they are dissatisfied, however, do not feel obligated to meet all of his demands. Like anything else, this is about bargaining. If its simple, such as a missed part or bad permission, it might be easy to fix. If the person is difficult or non-communcative, it might be more difficult to actually deal with the problem or figure out if it is actually a problem. If it is one person out of many, it's probably not pressing.

The bottom line? Don't worry about it. You can't please everyone all the time. If you've got 50 happy customers and only 1 unhappy one, you are actually doing pretty awesome.


At 1:25 PM, November 21, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On three occasions that come to mind immediately, I bought an item with a missing part or a mis-permissioned part or had a malfunctioning vendor. I did not have any problems contacting the creator who were responsive in resolving the issue.

I've had more buyer's remorse over an item that did not fit me properly or did not look as good as it did in the sales display. I chalk such things up to my ignorance in figuring out how to move the prims to fit properly for my shape or what not.

Then again, I have not paid L$800-1000 for outfits. Getting L$100 outfits from Dazzle is just fine with me. I'd be more upset about the former not fitting/working right than the latter.


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