It’s Just Business! (or is it something else?)
Despite the fact that my company has over 35,000 very satisfied paying customers, every once in a while we do fail to meet someoneâ€™s expectations… and when that happens, boy oh boy, youâ€™d better duck and take cover! Have a look at the following excerpts of headlines about my company, which were found on two different Internet-based message boards (FYI: each has been edited for punctuation and clarity):
- Beware, this company is terrible!!!!!!
- Avoid this scam at all costs!!
- Dobaâ€™s a rip-offâ€¦ they are lame middlemen
- Doba is a scamâ€¦ biggest fraudster ever
- Doba is cheating all of you out of your profits!
Sentiments like theseâ€”especially when posted in unmoderated online forumsâ€”are inevitable. You can be the nation’s leading fashion retailer (think Nordstrom). You can have a platinum reputation for customer service (think LL Bean). You can be a mom and pop operation with five employees and twenty regular customers. Whoever you are, regardless of the quality of your product or service, and no matter how attentive you are to the needs and desires of your customers, thereâ€™s no way that youâ€™re ever going to satisfy everyone 100 percent of the time, and youâ€™d better be prepared to have that fact made public.
Because everyone at Doba takes a great deal of pride in how we treat our customers, fellow employees, and community members, consumer-generated headlines like these–as well as the detailed comments that tend to follow–are very hard to read. On the one hand, as a company co-founder and CEO, I want to reach out to the people who feel that way and offer to bring them up to speed on who we are, what we do, and why our value proposition/business model is sound. And then on the other hand, sometimes I just want to grab those same people and holler, â€œWhat in the heck are you talking about, and why are you trying to hurt our reputation?â€?
The day before yesterday, someone left a comment here on my blog about those very same Doba-related message board comments. He shared that while he was indeed interested in using Doba‘s services, he first wanted my take on the message board comments. I told him that while I could certainly go through each message and respond, I thought itâ€™d be better if I took the high road and simply acknowledge that everyoneâ€™s entitled to his or her own opinion. I also told him that itâ€™s important to recognize that the Internet provides a dynamic forum for the sharing of both good and bad information, and I encouraged him to contact our Customer Service/Support Department for more information related to his concerns. What I didnâ€™t tell him was thisâ€¦
The people I work with to make ours the best company on the planet are a part of my family, and when someone attacks one of my family members without justification or cause, well, it just pisses me off! Each and every day I step foot into our offices, I witness first-hand smart and caring people authentically pouring their hearts and souls into a company that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses find products to resell by connecting them to wholesale suppliers. So, when someone publicly states that weâ€™re scammers and cheaters, I do tend to take it personally.
Luckily though, at the end of the day, I always come around to the realization that itâ€™s not personal; itâ€™s just business. I recognize that people run businesses and that people arenâ€™t perfect. I’m also reasonable enough to recognize that some people can never be satisfied, and as a result, they will almost always have a negative disposition towards one company or another, including my own.