I think we’ve all been burned to some degree or another by a business. The wait staff at a restaurant ignores your table for a 1/2 hour then the food is cold and horrible. A mechanic fixes a noise in your engine for a pretty hefty price only to have that unsettling sound start up again in a day or so. A/C companies, plumbers, Doctors, etc.etc.etc. It just happens, businesses are made up of people, people are imperfect and sometimes circumstances just add the dilemma.What can you do?
The cold hard fact is that every company out there is going to let someone down somewhere, sometime. The good news, most are going to make the effort to try and do something, (possibly) anything they can to make the situation right for you; or at least come to some sort of compromise that you can live with even if you aren’t (can’t be) totally satisfied.
Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
The reason, in my mind, boils down to the simplest and most obvious factor. Preservation of reputation. It is SO HARD to build up a solid business and so difficult to go out day after day and put forth such huge amounts of energy and expense trying to achieve success. Owners often put in 60 to 80 hour weeks trying to get everything to click- they are the ones who take all the risks. But all this work can (and does) take a huge step backwards when an unsatisfied customer begins to spread the word of their unhappiness. They say an unhappy customer will tell 10 people their negative story while a happy one….well, maybe you’ll get a referral or two if you’re lucky. In the old days the good news would be that the disgruntled clients words would fade when the winds of discontentment died down–in todays world, a disgruntled clients view of you will live on and on and is visible to people whom that person never even had a chance of knowing.
The Real Problem
Are there legitimate complaints out there? Yes. However for every legitimate complaint or problem in a business, I’d be willing to bet there are many, many more imagined, unfounded or manufactured grievances. Then to compound this dilemma, it is almost always these fallacious bellyachers that scream the loudest, AND are the ones who have found the way to deliver the most devastating blows to a your business. The internet.
No where else can a voice be heard loudest and longest and in many cases can’t be challenged or erased without serious time and or money investment.
There are web sites devoted to nothing else but company reviews and they have huge followings. Other sites are more like on line yellow pages and their ‘review’ or ‘comment’ sections under your companies listing can easily be accessed for good or for bad. In so many instances company owners aren’t even aware they are listed in some of these places let alone they have a review. I recently found one that listed my company and an, eh ehmm, critique of my work that went on for a half a page. Who knew that I hated children, made appointments that I repeatably broke and took the money up front to boot? The problem is, I was to expensive with our phone quote and never got the job in question. Fortunately for me the comment was (is) under review so it is visible but it takes a couple of clicks to get there- most people won’t go to that effort. But the gurus behind the scenes have never answered my emails disputing this comment either–so there it hangs & here I sit wondering how many (if any) clients I didn’t get because of it. The site isn’t visited much thank goodness but hey–what if it was? Or what if some huge commercial client was searching for an ethical service company and saw this? I’d be out in the cold and the review doesn’t even belong to my company!!!
How About A Turn Around
So I wonder, what if we (the business community) turned the tables? How bout a web site of reviews on clients? I could easily provide a list of non payers. People who take the service and tell me the check is in the mail only to wait two months and dutifully show up for another regular scheduled and agreed upon visit only to not get paid again. I could list bad check writers, people whose credit cards are consistently declined and those who eventually just ignore my calls or have the nerve to say they were never satisfied and are now not paying. I can give you several names of those who breathe out threats of lawsuits–that might be some good info for my fellow business brethren when considering taking on a client. It might take a few days but I could surely type out a few hundred names of folks who habitually stand me up or my techs. I mean my guys might not mind sitting for 30 minutes playing Candy Crush while waiting but why do I have to pay for that 2 or 3 times every few months?
I’m just a small business-but I guarantee you I could use up quite a bit of bandwidth with my list, how bout you?
Is It Worth It
I’m told, (& I’ve looked into it) this kind of listing site is fraught with litigious land mines and trouble. Peoples good names just can’t be trashed like this and that soon the site would be drowning in legal fees and bad press. That may be true but how does one explain a person who owes taxes or goes bankrupt having their full names and other information put in the newspapers? Credit or background checks are legal aren’t they? Why can’t I, or you, a business owner click into a site and find out if someone in my service area is a risky customer? Hmmm, seems a bit unfair to me, a double standard if you will….. I wonder, is there’s a web site out there where hundreds of pest control (and other) business owners go where I can complain about this? (oh, I guess I just did 😉