Many of both new and seasoned entrepreneurs struggle with customer experience when it comes to how they respond to emails and comments from their audience.
Everyone in your organization, including those of you at the top, are shaping your customer experience all the time. Every comment you leave and email you send counts as a part of that experience.
Its unfortunate that there are so many entrepreneurs who when they personally interact with the public online forget this fact. There seems to be a trend toward directness among leaders in the entrepreneurship world.
In an effort to emulate the top performers, lesser known entrepreneurs have tried to straight up copy their styles. They are attempting to operate under the “act as if” adage in hopes that it will gain them additional respect and authority.
More often than not, this goes horrible wrong and sadly they don't know why. They wonder why big names like Ramit Sethi can get away with it and they can't.
They don't understand why their customers abhor them as jerks with possible God complexes (or worse) and the same thing can come out of a top entrepreneurs mouth and not elicit the same response. But is it actually the same thing being said?
To help your businesses and the customers who interact with them, I am going to explain exactly why your directness gets you a bad rep while others get more sales and subscribers.
You are not actually being direct. You are being a jerk.
While trying to be direct, you miss out on all the characteristics of it but maybe one or two. A communication that qualifies as direct has five characteristics:
- It contains an opinion or fact.
- It provides value to the person on the receiving end of the communication.
- It provides additional support to strengthen the response.
- It is not sugar coated.
- It is in your face.
Most of the entrepreneurs that are failing at this always get the fifth characteristic, sometimes get the first and fourth, but never the second and third. Those are the most important. Those are what sets you apart from the top performers.
What Top Entrepreneurs Do
The truth is that even top performers make people a little sensitive with their emails and their comments. But how they make people feel a little sensitive is different from how many of you are with your “direct” responses.
People who receive advice from direct communicators like Ramit Sethi get sensitive because he is often exposing a truth about a person that they may not have wanted to know on a conscious level.
Sure in the back of their mind they might have known that fear of failure is what is stopping them from starting a business. But the reason it was back there and not out in front like Ramit often puts things is because they are sensitive about it.
Now here’s the real key point. They are sensitive about what he said because they know he is right. Ramit’s articles and responses not only expose their fear but explain exactly how it’s stopping them from achieving their goals and what they need to do to move onto the next level.
Most people either in that moment or later on will realize the value of what he said and might even look up the sources of support he used. They will ultimately feel good about the interaction because of the value gained. Now let’s look at what other entrepreneurs do.
What "Jerk" Entrepreneurs Do
You have someone leave a comment on a blog post of yours that clearly shows they are afraid and/or don’t know what they are talking about. Your response is something along the lines of “stop being such a bitch and do it!” Now some of you might look at this comment and think it’s motivating. Its not. Its unnecessarily insulting and rude.
You have offered no value, no evidence, and pretty much no opinion or fact. What is the person even being a bitch about? How would you overcome it? What are the results if you do?
If you can write at the bottom of most of your comments and emails:
P.S. F*ck you, I’m the best.
And it not even slightly seem out of tone with the rest of the text, you have a problem. The only exception is if you know FOR SURE that your audience would appreciate a comment like that. If not, you are rubbing your audience the wrong way.
And the kicker is that they will rarely tell you this because of how they think you’ll respond. Plus, it’s a waste of their time. Why reach out and help you become better when you aren’t helping them when they do? They can just unsubscribe and leave you to your rants. So unless you really reflect on what you write, you may never know you have this problem.
Responses like these translate into a poor customer experience for many reasons.
It will lead to:
- Poor engagement with your company (fewer comments, social shares, likes, testimonials, etc.)
- An Internet rep for being a jerk
- Difficulty connecting with other influencers because they might not want to be associated with you professionally (even if you are right)
People will not want to interact with you or your company. You might still get some sales and subscribers if you are really good at what you do. But you’ll hear crickets whenever you try to reach out for product research.
People don’t like to be embarrassed for any reason but will consider it if means getting something in return. If you just embarrass them with no return, you get nothing as well.
How You Fix It
So how do you fix this? Go back to the characteristics I listed about what it means to be direct and make sure you hit on this in comments and emails when you feel your inner jerk coming out. Again a good way to test if you are about to be a jerk is if you can write that p.s. at the bottom and it fit perfectly.
But Taylor, What About The Internet Haters?
Yes, I am keenly aware of Internet haters and trolls. They are not so much who I am talking about here because they shouldn’t be a part of your audience. How many trolls do you know go on to leave thoughtful comments on your blog or purchase your signature product?
Don’t worry about them. If you want to respond, you have my permission to jerk it up. If they are truly trolling, people from your audience who see the comment will recognize that and ONLY THEN applaud you for “directness.”
Reply in the comments. Are any of you guilty of this or have been on the receiving end of this? I promise I’ll be nice. I wouldn’t have written the post if I didn’t want to help.