I started thinking on this topic after I saw this headline:
It’s obvious that this business is being targeted, whether it’s because of ease of access, the quality/expense of the stolen items or even a personal vendetta against the company or its’ owners. Whatever the reason, I doubt “frustration” covers the depth of emotion these owners feel about the loss of property and violation of their workspace.
The majority of the population are nice people, who aren’t looking to start fights, steal, or sabotage the hard work of others. This includes your customers whom upon receiving some mistreatment, will be forgiving as long as the problem is acknowledged, a sincere apology is issued and where necessary – recompense is given. The customer may not always be right, but with our social world of instant communication, they do need to be handled fairly and sometimes with delicacy to keep them happy. Otherwise they may broadcast their dissatisfaction to any who will listen.
However there are a small percentage that will never be happy; not with your service, or an apology. They may dislike a person at your company and target the whole entity just on spite alone. Online trolls spend large amounts of time writing slander and harassing a variety of corporations for a purpose entirely their own. There are people who act without reason, tear down for enjoyment, and detest the strong and prosperous. But thankfully, those are a small minority.
If you should happen to run into a difficult person, there’s only a limited amount that you can do.
– You should always start with reason, especially online. Even if it has no effect on the complainant, your other customers will see your honest effort to resolve the problem.
– Try humility or provide action steps for how the problem will be addressed or resolved in the future, as this business owner demonstrated.
– Offer to compensate the individual, even if you feel they are taking advantage of you. You might not be able to win them over to be a customer again, but giving in may be worth it if he or she will leave you alone and not continue to complain or influence other customers.
– It may be possible to diffuse a negative situation with humor. Just make sure you consider the various ways your humor may be construed before you publish. You certainly don’t want things to go from bad to worse by making light of a serious situation.
– When all else fails, put distance between yourself and the complainant. Don’t respond to their jibes, taunts or criticisms. Focus only on what repair you can do to your reputation, and don’t give them anymore content to attack you with.
If you have an additional suggestions or examples, we welcome your comments.