You don’t bring me flowers anymore: When customers turn on you
Monday, April 15, 2019
One day you’re walking on water, the best thing since sliced bread, you can do no wrong, and your customer is going to tell all their friends how wonderful your product and service are.
And the next day, wham, suddenly you’re a pariah, a nobody, the worst ever, and they’re going to report you to the authorities to have your licenses revoked, have you thrown in jail, and bashed on any social media that exists.
What happened? Did you change overnight? Did the other person change overnight? Did the circumstances surrounding your relationship change overnight?
You may have experienced that in your personal or professional life; I have, and it can be frustrating and hurtful.
But here are some possible underlying dynamics which might help lessen the pain of being a fallen idol:
A propensity to jump to conclusions, usually negative ones, before seeking any clarification.
I had a travel client some years ago that lauded my travel expertise before their trip, during their trip, and even after they returned home. But about two weeks later, I got the nastiest email from them, replete with every imaginable insult and threat.
The cause? They had gotten their credit card bill, didn’t recognize a large charge, and assumed that I had fraudulently used their card to make a purchase. They didn’t bother to call the cc company for clarification; they didn’t call me to ask if I knew anything about it.
They just jumped to the conclusion that I had suddenly become a thief after working intimately with them for one year. Yet, it only took me one minute to ask the name of the company making the charge and identify it as a well-known jewelry company where they had vacationed. “Oh yes, haha, we forgot we forgot we bought a lot of jewelry on vacation.”
Paranoia: Thinking that everyone is out to get them and looking for real or imagined evidence to justify their paranoia.
I befriended an elderly man once who asked me to buy him a vacuum cleaner as he was mostly housebound; I did and presented the receipt which he rejected, saying that I had forged it and substituted a cheaper model in order to get more money. I then realized why this man was friendless!
Upbringing and background to always suspect the worst in every person and in every situation.
Maybe the person’s family history is such that it was ingrained to trust no one and that everyone would take advantage of you if they could.
Lack of confidence in decision-making, leaving the person vulnerable to others’ opinions.
A contractor I know recounted how a customer raved about the quality of the work performed and how reasonably priced and efficient he was, to the point where the client tried to ply him with gifts. The homeowner promised more work to be done after she entertained visiting family.
Once the family left, this same homeowner complained about the work, the price, and insinuated he was a crook and demanded a refund. What happened? The family barraged her with familiar doubts about her ability to make sound decisions—a recurring theme in her family’s opinion of her.
Inability to accept the outcome of your own decisions, so you blame others.
A hardware store manager told me about a formerly regular customer who became incensed that the store sold him the wrong-sized heating filters. How would the store know what size he needed? It didn’t matter; in this man’s view, somebody other than him had to be responsible for this mistake.
So, the familiar adage applies: “It’s not you; it’s them.” Shrug your shoulders, add these people to your “never do business again with these people” folder, and move on.
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