Social Question

LocalFlyerDistribution's avatar

How do you handle a client who is bad mouthing the competition?

Asked by LocalFlyerDistribution (4 points ) March 25th, 2010

On average, I field about 35 calls per day. About 4 or 5 times a week I get calls from potential customers who have had a bad experience with our competition. I get customers who really bad mouth our competition then, ask me for my take on it. Alternately, I get calls from potential customers who are leaning towards our competition (primarily due to cheaper prices) but, they want to know what we think about it and suggest a price match.

I have one answer and one answer alone for these types of calls. I let the trash talkers know what our business is about completely refrain from offering my opinion on anyone’s business reputation.

What do you think?

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9 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

That is a good policy.

And remember that when they start looking for a better deal they will be badmouthing you to the new people. I would avoid customers (unless I really need the work) who do that in my business. Word of mouth can be a real bitch in very specific industries.

Val123's avatar

Well….gosh. I don’t know what line of work you’re in, but when I was in the burgeoning cell phone business (in the 90’s) I freely admitted that our competitor’s service was not much different from ours. They’d cause the phones to drop call in areas that our towers didn’t and vise versa. As far as leaning them towards our company…well, I knew our competitor’s sales people would sell them a confusing song and dance concerning promises they couldn’t keep and I just didn’t allow that from my sales people. We had a good enough product that we didn’t have to lie about it. I’d give my potential customers, who were asking why they should choose us over them, two key questions that I knew the answer to and “challenge’ them to ask question A to the competitor, then see what happened when they asked question B, for clarification. They always came back saying, “You were right! They promised ABC, but when I got specific ABC didn’t really happen!.”

Don’t know if that’s your situation, but it sounds like your customers are trying to find out why they should go with your company other than the other. The worst thing you can do is bad mouth the other company….

jazmina88's avatar

do not get negative, You’re on track. Talk about the good things about your company…the wonderful service, quick delivery, satisfaction…..can you price match??

Dont badmouth . You know what you are doing. Positivity wins.

Val123's avatar

I repeat @jazmina88 Do not badmouth the competition. You control the conversation. The focus must be on the (real) good traits of your company. Totally leave the competition out of it.

mrrich724's avatar

You don’t even have to worry about it. Obviously there is no need for you to even be concerned with uttering anything about them b/c people already know. Just focus on your superior service.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I try to defuse situations like that with humor, “Well, did they recommend us? I need to thank them.”

Something like that. You can’t control—don’t even want to try to control—what clients or potential clients say. After all, they really are “always right”. But they’re coming to you for a reason, so you more or less need to acknowledge that and then (as you indicate) get down to the business that you want to do. I certainly wouldn’t feed their ire, as you properly indicate that you do not, but I wouldn’t completely ignore it, either.

“We’ll try to see that you have a more positive experience here!”
“Please tell me personally if you have any bad experiences with us!”
etc.

Haleth's avatar

If a customer is unhappy for any reason, turning it into a positive experience for them is a great way to get their repeat business. It takes a lot of money and resources for a company to get new customers, and these people have basically come to you asking to give you their business. If you can give them a very positive experience to balance their negative one, and they leave feeling happy, they can be very loyal customers.

Be diplomatic, and instead of saying negative things about the competition or avoiding the subject, focus on the positives of your business. For example, we sell a lot of desserts at my job. Passover starts on Monday, so a lot of people call us looking for unleavened desserts. I spoke to a woman today who said this is the least appealing part of the Passover meal, because they just don’t taste good. We have an unleavened cake that’s made of layered pastry made with hazlenut flour, chocolate ganache, vanilla custard, and hazlenut praline. It is sooo good. So I described it in appetizing detail and gave her a sample, and she ended up ordering one. Now it’s up to me to make sure everything goes smoothly with her order, so I introduced myself, took down her phone number, and let her know that we carry special items during other Jewish holidays. It’s also good to follow up with customers if they complain about anything- it’s rare for a business to be proactive and check that everything is ok before the customer is angry enough to complain. I’ll keep this customer’s info on file along with some notes about her likes and dislikes, so that next time I’ll remember and offer her a better experience.

wonderingwhy's avatar

in my field, as with it seems yours, and many other, it’s about delivering results and reputation. I’ll nod along with it so to speak and agree that a particular strategy or action should have been done differently but I try to make sure I refrain from actually saying anything negative about the competition because I don’t know both sides of the story and if someone is going to ruin themselves, they don’t need my help.

I think your policy is an excellent one, keep it up.

Oh, one thing I will do, provided I am not in the running is, if asked, I will relate things I’ve been told or was witness to, but I try to do so without bias or overly negative connotations. I won’t lie and say some guy/company is great if I know they’re screwing their clients.

thriftymaid's avatar

With great care.

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