Our customers are the worst
by Henri Heikkinen
For a few years already we have been running this vague little company. Financially, this does not produce anything, but mentally, running your own small company is a pretty fun hobby. Comparable to the pleasure of S&M.
Customer service in general is a really nice job, answering messages and dealing with returns or warranty exchanges. The only downside really is that you must deal with customers. Luckily, though, we have an online shop, so we never have to physically meet anyone.
Although we have had this shop for only a few years, little by little, with the wisdom gained from three university courses, we have been able to identify the different types of customers in an online shop. Since a quick Google search showed that no one else had understood how to do this, we decided to write a little about the types of people we encounter daily.
The non-buying complainer
A non-buying complainer is someone who isn't even ordering anything, but still makes it their business to tell everyone that the product you're selling is crap or can be found cheaper elsewhere. These people only work on the internet. In the real world, the same people would hardly go to the entrance of a grocery store to shout that “you are selling shitty vegetables and potatoes are cheaper in Lidl”.
The motivation of the non-buyer is still a great mystery to mankind. Our customer service policy is to instruct these people to order the better product from the different place and to enjoy having sex with themselves.
The order has been done. Order confirmation did not arrive immediately. I will email the seller. Now it came. I’ll send another email saying the confirmation has arrived. Oh, I forgot to ask if batteries are included. I'll email about that too. The seller did not reply within an hour. I’ll ask again. I will also ask whether the package will be sent to the post office downtown or the one next to my local grocery store.
The email rabbit is very busy, and the messages arrive faster than anyone can respond to them. However, we try to answer all questions, even if it gets annoying in the long run.
Stupid (and evil)
Some people are just plain fucking stupid. There's no getting away from it even with all the good intentions in the world. Even if there's only one button on the device, pressing it is overwhelming for someone. Stupidity is usually coupled with the fact that the user instructions certainly not read. Somehow, too, the dumbest always have the most fragile ego, so it's always everyone else's fault. The product is shit, you don't know how to advise and "I've done everything right".
We take the criticisms kindly, advise patiently and ask you to return the crap product. Mysteriously, the returned non-working products from these people always work when we try them ourselves.
Value for money
Some people can't understand that a gadget costing 169 euros - which in itself does a pretty good job - is not quite as good as a product ten times as expensive. C-class Mercedes should not be compared to a Rolls Royce. The disappointment is certainly like that of my spouse in bed, but where the spouse turns his back and dreams of real men, the customer decides to complain about everything he can think of. Almost invariably, however, the complaint results in the product not being returned, because the customer knows that it is the best that money can buy. The customer just wanted to tell us that he’s friend has 3000 euro headphones that are better than ours.
From a customer service perspective, these people are not bad. We are used to disappointing others. Our own fathers, for example. Ever since we were kids. We know how to deal with it.
Everyone knows at least one of these annoying fucks who know everything about everything and even when being wrong, won't admit it. They usually have no agenda other than to prove their own superiority by educating you how a 1000€ more expensive device is so much better than your product. They also tend to have a better knowledge of how to do online sales or marketing. They constantly approach us to tell how they would’ve done everything better than us but haven’t bothered to do it.
These people are usually failures in life. We feel sympathy for them and try to pretend that we care.
This isn't a real customer group, but every time you put out a newsletter, some asshole immediately comes and whines that you shouldn't say that. Then, in retaliation, he cancels the subscription to the newsletter because the headline says "fuck" or unlikes our Facebook page. These people are everywhere nowadays and we have a conscious strategy to try to weed them out of our customer base.
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is that you can tell someone to fuck off if you want to. Nowadays, everyone gives in to these people, so they get mad when their whining is ignored.
As a bachelor, I got used to the fact that women always just mysteriously disappeared after a couple of messages or at the least after the first date. As a shopkeeper, I have encountered a similar phenomenon a couple of times. First someone asks a lot of questions or sends messages about something completely justified, e.g. a product return. Then when you try to answer it, the guy has disappeared like a fart in the Sahara Desert.
You can't really do anything about it, but it's a bit confusing when first there's something important that should be taken care of immediately, but then if you start to take care of it, the guy disappears completely.
You would think that if a friend has a shop or other business, then by doing business there you would be supporting your friend. But that's not how it works. Naturally, the friend's business is supposed to give free samples and heavy discounts. Then, of course, being nice, one always gives their friends discounts and wonders at the end of the month why he can't afford to buy grandma's cancer drugs and the kids are confiscated because of unpaid bills.
This is not a big problem for us, as we have no friends.
The worst of all
There is one customer segment that remarkably often combines all the above characteristics. Namely, a certain type of female customer. In English, there is a term for this type of person - Karen. She asks questions and complains in advance, sends a million emails after ordering a product, doesn't know how to use it, complains, returns, is disappointed and offended. Then Karen wants to complain to the CEO.
Fortunately, not all women are such customers. Most women are just ordinary customers. There are also trans customers who are men until they start to shop online as Karen.
It is always a good idea to try to piss off these customers well in advance of the purchase. Then they won't buy and the retailer will save a pretty penny in returns and explanation time - not to mention nerves.
All the others
The fact is that these types of customers make up about 1% of online shoppers. Usually, those examples are still personalised to a particular piece of shit (maybe you).
The majority of retail customers (94%) are completely inconspicuous. The product is ordered, it arrives in the mail and that's it. The customer is happy when nothing is heard about it.
Then we have those 5% of absolutely brilliant customers who we are happy to chat with on Facebook, WhatsApp or email. A lot of them you'd love to have a beer with. The easy way to ensure good customer service is to just be nice in general.