Lessons on Internet Marketing from Society

There are two kinds of customers you must pay special attention to: (1) the excellent customer, and (2) the extremely unhappy customer.

The excellent customer is someone who can’t stop buying your products, has been easy to service, and raves about you to everyone he knows. Only now he’s asking for something a bit out of the ordinary — and has created a special situation that must be handled. Since satisfied customers are your most important asset, you want to go to extremes to keep them happy.

One of my excellent customers, for instance, wanted a substitute for the free report I was offering with one of my e-books — something we don’t give away. But he had bought tons from us, so I happily gave it to him. He was so happy, he immediately bought yet another product.

The other type of customer you want to handle personally and with great care is the extremely unhappy customer. Reason: Unhappy customers tell other people that they’re unhappy with you. The more unhappy they become, the more people they complain to — and the louder they say it.

In the good old days, an unhappy customer complained to maybe 5 or 10 other people. But with social networking, they can tell thousands about you with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks.

I had a problem with a product I bought online, but could get no satisfaction from the seller. He refused to even take my call. So I wrote about it on my blog. Within 24 hours, the seller called, apologized profusely, immediately fixed the problem, and begged me to remove the post from.

Despite this newfound power that consumers enjoy online, many Internet businesses treat their customers poorly. I hear complaints about it all the time. People tell me they bought a product online, but when they called about returning it, the seller became downright opprobrious. Or they tell me about Internet marketers who flat out refuse, on the flimsiest of excuses, to honor their money-back guarantees.

And Internet marketers can be so darn inaccessible!

I mean, if you have a problem with your phone, you can call the phone company and eventually get to a real person, right? But when you want to complain to an Internet marketer, more often than not there is no mailing address or phone number.

And when you send them an e-mail, you get a response from a robot — an auto-responder — not a live human being. The e-mail tells you how busy the marketer is. Sometimes it promises a return call from a person… which usually never comes.

I have heard of Internet marketers who blow their stacks at customers who aren’t very computer literate and have trouble opening and reading an e-book or downloading and listening to a podcast. Those customers may frustrate you and try your patience, but think about how frustrated they must feel. They just bought great information from you, and now they can’t access it.

Is this how you’re treating some or all of YOUR customers? If so, something I heard at a recent meeting of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County can serve as your new customer service policy. One of the speakers pointed out that a precept of the organization is: “Every person deserves to be treated fairly and kindly.”

This is great advice, especially if you are an Internet marketer.

“But,” you may argue, “I can’t personally respond to every complaint. That’s why I have an auto-responder or an assistant.”

First of all, assuming your products are a good value, you’re not getting all that many complaints. Second of all, you probably could respond to all of them, if you wanted to.

SL, a major catalog marketer, writes a personal note of apology — and sends it along with a small gift — whenever his company has an unhappy customer. If SL can do it, you and I can do it too.

But let’s say you can personally respond to only a fraction of the complaints you get. What should you do?

I hired a part-time assistant to handle all complaints and special requests. She does her job with sensitivity and common sense. However, I see all the complaints first, and I pick certain ones to handle personally. These are from the two types of customers I mentioned at the beginning of this essay — the extremely unhappy ones and the valuable repeat customers.

Every person deserves to be treated fairly and kindly. Are you treating every customer and prospect fairly? Do you do it angrily or kindly?

One more thing: Add an unadvertised grace period to your money-back guarantee.

If, for example, you have a 90-day money-back guarantee and a customer returns your product on day 92, you give him his money back anyway. Why? Because you want to treat him fairly and kindly… just like you’d want to be treated.

And if you treat your customers fairly and kindly, they will deal with you in the same way.

[Ed. Note: Providing great customer service should be a priority in your Internet business. But there is plenty of other stuff to learn and take care of… search engine optimization, copywriting, landing pages, e-mail list building, social media… you’ll learn it all in Bob’s Internet Cash Generator program. Find out more about it here.

Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of more than 70 books. To subscribe to his free e-zine, The Direct Response Letter, and claim your free gift worth $116, click here now: www.bly.com/reports.]