If we’ve ever met, you know how I feel about positivity. Positive vibes, smiles, and a “can do” attitude always win.
Back in 2001 when I first started my professional career, I was all smiles, all the time. And let’s be honest, I still am.
But it’s not by accident. It’s because I’ve learned how to deal with negativity. From 2001-2006, I dreaded negativity.
I always felt that I was working so hard that everyone should love and appreciate me. But I was naive.
I was naive to the fact that people don’t care. They don’t care about you, they care about themselves. When you open your eyes to this fact, you can really make a difference – for them and for you.
Here’s my example.
In 2007 I was one year in on my start-up eCommerce / Membership website NoOffseason.com. I had set up what I thought were really cool, free fantasy football leagues through a partner of mine, MyFantasyLeague.com (thanks Mike Hall).
Basically, I thought that if I could be the commissioner of 10 leagues, with 10 people each, that I could foster a community of 100 people that were interested in dynasty fantasy football content, and would have a connection with my website to go get their information on how to win.
I was right, this was a great strategy, but what I wasn’t anticipating was customers getting angry when things didn’t go their way – even in free leagues.
So as I set up these leagues, customers were appreciative, but they started playing against each other, and when that happened, drama ensued – as it would within any fantasy football league.
Who do you think was blamed for all the drama? Yep, I was.
I had a full-time job, a fantasy football website side hustle that was making too much money to give up (plus I loved it way more than my full-time job), but now I had angry customers?
For doing something nice for them? For free?
Yep – this is the reality of any B2C brand; or even B2B for that matter.
The customer is always right.
I noticed that when I tried to explain things in response to the angry emails, they only got angrier.
I was losing sleep.
Then, I took a different approach, one that I will now always remember. I decided to be nicer than I was before. I decided to sincerely apologize for all of this person’s frustration.
I decided to be honest about the fact that I was a one-man show just doing the best I can, but that I’d continue to be more involved in the leagues to ensure the best possible experience for all players.
This transparency totally worked.
Instead of trying to fix the problem, I just listened, validated, and asked what I could do better to make them have a better experience. Then, I acted on it.
Whew, problem solved.
I was sleeping again. But that wasn’t the best part. The best part was that this person ended up being my biggest all time advocate for NoOffseason.com.
This person contributed to the message boards, making the premium community better and saving me hours of work answering questions.
This person spread the word about the quality of our product and helped grow our subscriber base through word of mouth.
You see, when he was angry and negative, he wasn’t trying ruin me. He cared so much – that’s why he was mad.
This is the case for most of your business’ negative Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews and overall feedback / posting on social media.
While customers may not email you directly like he did to me (and I’m thankful he did), they may post their concerns on Google or on social media.
You can’t control the message, but you can use these tools to identify who is pissed at you, and respond. Not to defend yourself, but to turn the negativity into advocates.
Seek out the negative and turn it into the biggest positive your brand could imagine.