Friday, February 22, 2008

Houston, We Have a Problem!

I came across a great article in Business Week entitled; Love the Customers Who Hate You. Before I even read the sub-title I thought to myself, this must be an article on eBay. Yeah, I know, I just can't let this eBay thing go can I?

The point of the article is summed up well, in the sub-title "Their online gripes will help you reinvent your business" Now I know this has to be about eBay, right! The funny thing, the article never mentioned eBay once.

"Here's some free advice: Go to Google (GOOG), enter any of your company's brands followed by the word "sucks," and you will see the true consumers' reports. Brace yourself, for it won't be pretty. Googling Wal-Mart (WMT) turns up 165,000 results; Disney, 530,000; Google, 767,000 (DIS). What's your number? Don't get mad at these people. These angry customers are doing you a huge favor: They care enough about your product or service to tell you what went wrong. Others may desert you. These customers tell you what to fix. Listen to them. Help them. Respond to them. Ask their advice. They'll give it to you.You should require everyone in your C-suite to read the missives of unhappy customers that show up in the unofficial Google Sucks Index and to fix every problem they can. It's O.K. to ignore the people who seem to hate you for sport, but listen to the rest."

The writer goes on to describe his experience with Dell, but I could just as easily insert my experience with eBay or PayPal, with this one caveat: "It's O.K. to ignore the people who seem to hate you for sport, but listen to the rest."

Just as corporate executives need to listen to those that hate them, so do online sellers. Isn't this really the point of Feedback, I know it hurts to get criticism, but if you look at the criticism to find ways of improving your business, the benefits can outweigh the negatives.

When I was selling I rarely paid much attention to the negative feedback, most of which I felt was coming from unreasonable customers, but now that I think back, there may have been patterns in the feedback that would have pointed out a problem with my business, maybe I should have paid attention.

While, I believe that large corporations need to listen to their detractors and find the kernels of truth in all the negativity, online sellers would do well to follow the same advice and listen to their unhappy customers. They may identify problems with your business or operations.

As for eBay management; listen to me every once in awhile. I complain because I care.

Just my 12%


Anonymous said...

"Patterns in Feedback" could be deemed helpful but receiving ratings on every $5 sale is a grammar school tactic that should only be required on the first 100 sales or 90 days online. Would you let your kids set up a lemonade stand in the front yard and give any passerby the right to critique them with written comments that stay on their permanent lemonade stand record?

Once you have proven yourself, you should be able to opt out of the feedback system. Is a feedback system required to listen customers, or do you just need to talk to your customers?

Randy Smythe said...


I may have been stretching a bit to make my point. Feedback is just a source of info.

Paying attention to the neutrals and Negs may give you ideas on how to improve your business.

Anonymous said...

This article stinks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Randy Smythe said...

Anonymous, thanks for the kind words! I occasionally write stinky posts.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should start a blog about you and the junk that you write about.