Why You Should “Hug Your Haters” This Year

Posted by
Jay Baer
Guest Blogger
Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - 13:21

Like it or not, we all have haters.

But here’s the secret: Haters are not your problem — ignoring them is.

Yes, the number of daily complaints can be overwhelming. The cold, hard truth, however, is that consumers expect a response on every channel almost every time.

Too many companies are still waiting by the phone 1970s-style for the next customer complaint. Well, more than half of Americans (64%) own a smartphone, and, let’s face it, these consumers probably aren’t using Google to find a 1-800 number for help.

Mobile and social will drive the future of customer service disruption. Continue reading for more on how to rethink your approach, all based on my new book, Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers.

Customer service = the new marketing.

Over the next few years, customer experience will trump price when it comes to decision making. According to HuffPost Tech, “86% of consumers are willing to pay more for an upgraded experience.”

Are you confident in your approach?

Reinvent the way you handle complaints — all starting with a new perspective. Complainers can be segmented into one of three groups: offstage, onstage, and the rest. Each can have a significant impact on brand image (for better or for worse), and below I’ve included an overview of each type plus a few best practices.  

Haters gonna hate (defined).

  • Offstage haters: These are more traditional consumers, including those who still defer to phone and email for help. The majority of these haters (90%) expect a reply, especially since they’ve taken the time to craft an email or wait on hold. More than likely, these are the complaints your customer care fields most often. And, sadly, this is also where most companies fall short. Beware, though: Consumers who are ignored offstage often become onstage haters!  Best practice: Ensure your team is equipped to handle offstage haters. In the long run, however, they will fade away...as more and more complaints shift to onstage channels.
  • Onstage haters: These haters complain online. I call them “onstage,” because they like an audience. You’ll most likely run into these types on social media, review sites, discussion boards, and forums. Surprisingly, not even half (47%) expect a reply. The upside to responding to these consumers is far greater than responding to offstage haters: Not only are you addressing complainers that may or may not have expected a reply, but you’re also showcasing your service in a public place. Plus, unhappy customers who feel they’ve been adequately addressed are more likely to convert to brand advocates. In fact, more than 70% change their feelings about a brand after seeing a response to a negative review.  Best practice: Remember that every onlooker is a potential consumer. Every onstage engagement represents your brand messaging and vision — and should be treated as such.
  • The rest: Most (95%) unhappy customers never take the time to complain outright in a way a business can find. But your brand is unknowingly helping these consumers by responding to onstage haters. Always offer easy ways to connect with your brand. Proactive messaging invitations or mobile messaging are good examples. 

Jay's upcoming book: "Hug You Haters."










How to blow consumer minds...and win their hearts.

Regardless of where your hater is hating, they can often be delighted in the following four ways. Make love not war, right?

  1. Recognize...and empathize. Consumers aren’t just dollar sign. They are humans with thoughts, feelings, and problems. The best customer care professionals are not only helpful but empathetic, too. They portray understanding and, therefore, develop more meaningful, memorable relationships.
  2. Enforce the rule of replying only twice. Sadly, not all consumers can ever be satisfied. That’s why I suggest using the rule of replying only twice. In any conversation online, only post a direct reply to one complainer two times. Anything further, and you risk having the conversation to spiral out of your control.
  3. Know that online customer service is a spectator sport. The way you respond to a complaint can create a ripple effect. Keep in mind that onlookers are just as important as the complainer. Onlookers can easily join the conversation or screenshot it and share the experience elsewhere.
  4. Always work quickly. Did you know that businesses take an average of 44 hours to reply to an email? On social media, 40% of social haters expect a reply within an hour. Obviously, speed is a critical factor when it comes to customer support, and businesses aren’t cutting it. Prioritize immediacy and find new, innovative ways to offer live support around the clock.

Later, haters!

The best businesses are responsive, and they reap the benefits. A 5% increase in retention can increase profit anywhere from 25% to 85%. Relationship management (i.e., your customer service) is what keeps the brand-to-consumer fire burning.

It’s one of many reasons I identify with LivePerson’s movement, Hold No More. As marketers (and as a consumer myself), it’s time to take a stand.

Jay Baer offers his best hold face.

Pictured right: Check out my hold face and add yours to the #HoldFace thread. 

For more on how, why, and where consumers complain (plus case studies from around the globe), I’d like to invite you to check out my new book, Hug Your Haters, today.

Editor’s note about Jay Baer:

Jay Baer is the world’s most retweeted person among digital marketers. He is a renowned business strategist, keynote speaker, and New York Times best-selling author of five books who travels the world helping business people get — and keep — more customers.

Jay has advised more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, Allstate, The United Nations, and 32 of the Fortune 500.

He is the founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through the smart intersection of technology, social media, and customer service. The Convince & Convert media division owns the world’s #1 content marketing blog, the world’s top marketing podcast, and many other educational resources for business owners and executives.

Blog Posts by Category