Ana writes about answering a disgruntled customer.
At 9:00 p.m. last Saturday, I received the following email: (reproduced here as it arrived):
this is really sad, i had up to almost $70 of merchandise in my cart. My local pharmacy stopped carrying your soup, i went to buy 8 bags of your cream of wild rice soup today to take to my folks to make in crock pots at Christmas time. They said they stopped carrying it. So i thought i would just order it online. i found it and i also found pumpkin pancakes, blueberry muffins, pumpkin butter, salad and salad dressing, and the shorter timed smaller sized soups, but then i did a cart check and when I saw the shipping I about died. i tried going online searching for promos and my iPad got hit with some virun or malware or something, it was like having an earthquake and it is less than a month old, thank you very much. i kept dumping items until i was just down to the soup and i even called only to get a voice mail that was about 20 seconds long and cut me off and gave me no options to redo my message or anything, just got cut off. You have awesome products but businesses do not survive on products alone, i dumped my cart and i will tell my pharmacist he made a good decision not to carry your products, and to tell his buyer the same. it’s really too bad as i was your best advocate up to about thirty minutes ago.
During twenty-eight years of small business-ing, I have responded personally to every complaint, justified or not, after my first response of wanting to curl up into a ball and die.
I crafted an emotionally-neutral response to this woman: I am so sorry you had trouble with our website. I apologize for not being at work to take your call. We don't have online coupons. We don't set the cost of shipping; the post office, UPS and FedEx do. We find and use the best (cheapest) carrier. I offered to quote the best freight rate, even pay half to compensate for her trouble.
She never responded. She must have enjoyed her anger more than she wanted her "awesome" order. Her message on the answer machine was just as rambling and vitriolic. She didn't ask for a return call.
Earlier that evening, I had read a discussion on a writing loop about reviews and reviewers. The same book can get five star and one star Amazon reviews. There are trolls who thrive on trashing books: "I hate first person stories, and quit reading this one after five pages, so I simply had to give this romance one star."
The impossible customer is like that. Impossible to please, impossible to placate.
What do you (or your publisher) do about bad reviews? Do you answer?