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The Customer is King

    Seems not in the online world where ‘content is king’ resounds more strongly.

    Had a great example of this recently.

    I’m spending time with some young guns to learn more about internet marketing – there’s always something else to learn in this game. I’m paying a hundred bucks a month to access their knowledge, tools and lessons. So, as any customer of mine would expect, I’m expecting regular content and activity as promised in their marketing materials.

    For ten days I’ve had nothing but sales letters from their autoresponder.

    No updates to their site. No feedback from comments on the blog. No responses to questions. No new content. No feedback on ‘assignments’.

    So I sent an email and queried this. For all I knew I may have been inadvertently disabled in their course system. I also pointed out it was a good lesson to learn – to keep in touch with your paying customers in terms of their content expectations (not just through constant sales letters).

    The response I received however ignored my concerns and was, in my view, sarcastically arrogant. Here’s the exact reply:

    There is a new invention called the Autoresponder. You should

    check it out and use it to mail while you take the weekend off with

    your family. Afterall, isn’t that one of the main reasons we start

    online businesses?

    No, ‘yeah sorry about that’. No ‘sorry you feel that way’. No ‘I hear you’.

    Now, I’m no fool. I know these guys are in it to make money the easiest way possible. They’re young dudes who have carved out a ‘hot’ reputation for themselves. They’re clever. Their system appears to work which is why I signed up. They get raving reviews. But I do note that this attitude comes through any time someone has anything that could be seen as criticism or concern.

    This attitude pervades in a few areas of internet marketing. “If someone complains I don’t want them as a customer’. ‘Just accept what I say, don’t question it’. “Do as I do’. And the customer service is non-existent, woeful or locked behind a technology solution –ticket system – where you can never deal with an individual. With some, you get the feeling they don’t want to deal with people at all, just bank accounts!
    customer is king
    Me? I’m old-fashioned. I figure if people are paying me money, they deserve to have their concerns acknowledged if not addressed. It’s real easy for them to hit the ‘cancel’ button in PayPal if they don’t feel they are getting what they expected. And I’ve lost their ongoing custom.

    I’ve run offline businesses. Still do. Most of my business comes from referrals of people who have been happy with my products and my SERVICE. Sure there are people who are a pain. But they also know people and they talk. It takes one disgruntled customer seconds to let tons of other people know how unhappy they are with you and your service (think twitter, online forums et al).

    So folks, if you are serious about building an online business, don’t treat your customers with contempt. Be polite, acknowledge their concerns and if you can’t meet their expectations at least let them go away feeling you’ve heard them.

    Content is critical. But if you don’t have satisfied customers you’ll struggle to start and sustain an online business.

    Or am I wrong?