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Loving the haters brings success

Embracing the negativity can you win you more customers than you think.

A website is only as good as its usability, a service only as good as its usefulness, a postman only as good as his accuracy, you get the idea. The goods or services we provide our customers are only going to succeed if we pay attention to the detail. According to an American Express survey, 3 in 5 people (59%) would try a new brand or company for a better service experience.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an Apple or Google of this world or a 2-man startup, you still have the ability to focus on every little piece of the experience. Apple has become the biggest and ripest fruit in the world because of its attention to detail and its openly transparent goal to consider every micro interaction between the consumer and its products. I’ll openly admit to being an Apple fanboy and therefore slightly biased but there is no denying that Apple products are easier to use than the majority of its competitors – my mum can swipe her way around an iPad with ease but try and get her to use Outlook and she spontaneously combusts!

The easiest way to learn about the experience your customer goes through when using your products is simply to ask, or even better – watch them. Hiring a team of user experience professionals to conduct this research can be a costly exercise and often the quick wins and vital insights can be gathered without the need for bringing in external help.

Where to start

Start with the haters – reach out to those that feel strongly enough about your product to voice their opinions to the social arena. It’s common to hear that those with negative experiences are more likely to share their thoughts than those with positive ones so lets embrace that negativity and use it for the good of the business. For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 others remain silent.* That means that for every complaint or negative comment you get you could be unknowingly frustrating a further 26 customers, 10 complaints could mean 260 customers seeking out your competitors!

‘The haters’ will tell you more about your business and guide your roadmap than your dedicated evangelists, lets call them ‘the lovers’, ever will.

Fortunately for us, these times of an ever increasingly touchable global audience through social media we often have direct contact with those who openly declare their disappointment, distrust or even hatred for us. Why would we not want to use this free and easy resource to find out what really upsets them?

Start by seeking out these comments and as a matter of priority, respond to them and offer apologies because regardless of how you feel – ‘the customer IS right’. If they didn’t notice that big red button, it’s not because they’re stupid, well probably not, its because of the lack of consideration for visual noise or colour or typography. Once again, its all about the finer details which YOU control. Too many times I hear clients blaming the user for not being able to use their product. If you want to succeed you need to remember that the user is the one buying your product and not you or your friend/brother/mother who have no problems with the product because they’ve used it successfully before.

Once you have begun to build those bridges you should stay in touch with these people and use them as a test bed for when you’ve fixed their issues. Not only are you getting a free testing resource but you’re also likely to switch these customers from ‘haters’ to ‘lovers’. In a few simple steps you’ve stopped customers from switching to a competitor, you’ve gained a free testing resource and you’ve potentially gained free marketing in the form of an advocate, word of mouth from a happy customer is more effective than any paid marketing.

One step at a time

You can’t be expected to fix every single issue instantly but as you start to build a list of all the different painpoints for the customer, you will soon learn which areas are causing the most trouble, these are the ones to fix at the earliest opportunity.

Addressing all those little issues will improve the bigger picture and please more of your customers resulting in less complaints, a better reputation and ultimately more sales – how can anyone argue with that?

* Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs

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