Haters are the early warning detection system for your business, much like a canary in a coal mine. Haters are not the problem … ignoring them is.
In fact, haters are your most important customers because when they complain, they provide free market research about what you can improve and how you can use content marketing to prevent future complaints.
The real problem for your business isn’t the haters; it is the people who have a poor experience but are not passionate enough about you and your company to take the time to say something about it. They are the “meh” in the middle, and they are what kill businesses.
And the people who love your business aren’t all that useful either. Praise is the most overrated commodity because when someone tells you what you’re great at, it teaches you nothing.
The best business lessons are born from criticism, not pats on the back.
Negativity is a great teacher
One benefit of paying attention to and embracing negative feedback is the ability to glean insights about your business that can improve your operations and processes.
Frank Eliason understands how this works and has captained these programs for very large companies that attract a high volume of customer feedback, including the television and Internet access company, Comcast, and Citi, where he served as the global director of the client experience team. Eliason is also the author of the excellent book @ Your Service.
“The best dollars and cents come when you start to make process improvements based on feedback. It’s harder to do with calls and easier to analyze online. You can start to understand where your frustration points are and fix those. Each of those has a monetary value to them,” he says.
He’s exactly right. And some of those process improvements can actually be turned into content marketing that educates customers before they have a chance to complain.
Amazon.com, for example, has an informal corporate edict that dictates that they should never have to answer the same customer question twice.
Because as soon as they get a question, they seek to proactively answer it — with content — so that in the future it never has to be asked again. Brilliant!
Why aren’t you doing that?
Why aren’t content marketers sitting with customer service professionals every week, discussing customer questions and problems, and figuring out how to get in front of those issues with content?
Pay attention to patterns of misunderstandings
Square Cow Movers is a small, family-owned moving company based in central Texas with four locations. They handle long-distance and commercial moves, but the company’s core service is local residential moves, according to managing partner Wade Lombard.
As a small operation, haters hit Lombard hard, and there is a tendency to take complaints personally because he and his immediate family are so intertwined in the business. It’s their life and their livelihood.
Lombard compares the emotional ties he has to his business to how he feels about his children.
“I can go to my son’s baseball game, and he can hit a home run, and I will feel like, man, that is my DNA, that is my offspring, I’m the best dad ever,” he says.
“And the very next day — this hasn’t happened, but it could — I can get a call from the principal who says, ‘Hey, your son’s in the office for disciplinary reasons,’ and I’m so disappointed in whatever action he took to land there.”
“And it’s similar with business,” Lombard says. “One day, I can feel so proud of what we’ve been able to build and what we’ve been able to do. And the next day, one of our guys can do something silly, or a client can call and they can have a legitimate complaint. And I will be so down in the dumps, my emotional spectrum will just plummet. And so I think for responding to complaints the key is to try to take the emotion out of it and say to yourself, ‘What can I learn from this?’”
There are lots of details in the moving business, and much back-and-forth with customers, who are already on edge due to the stresses inherent in any move. Square Cow Movers wasn’t handling those communication details well, a fact Lombard discovered by paying attention to complaints.
“What we found in the reviews was that most of the issues people had with us were when people were unaware of what time we were going to get there, or they were unaware of certain rules or regulations related to moving. And so what we started to do is pick up on patterns. We found these patterns of misunderstandings, and said to ourselves, ‘Okay, because this is a pattern, obviously we’re not doing our part to communicate properly,’” he says.
Lombard and his team changed the company’s policy and procedures as a result, adopting a policy known as “Over-communication is a myth.”
Today, the company goes out of its way to inform and educate customers multiple times throughout the moving process — and negative feedback based on misunderstandings has subsequently plummeted.
Square Cow Movers created content that explains to customers what to expect, thus reducing confusion and dissatisfaction. This not only results in happier customers and better word of mouth, but also saves them real money because they don’t have to field as many complaints.
A catalyst for excellence
When you’re able to categorize and analyze negative feedback from customers, you end up with a treasure trove of potential content marketing topics.
If you’re unsure what to write about, what to create a video about, or what to host a webinar about, start by looking squarely at what your customers are complaining about.
That’s how you use feedback from haters as a petri dish for great content.
This post was drawn from Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, about which Guy Kawasaki says: “This is a landmark book in the history of customer service.”
Written by Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters is the first customer service and customer experience book written for the modern, mobile era and is based on proprietary research and more than 70 exclusive interviews.
Buy the book directly from Jay now and receive instant digital access (before the book launches officially on March 1), plus get a ton of exclusive, pre-order bonuses worth thousands of dollars. For more information, visit jaybaer.com or HugYourHaters.com.
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