Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Constructive criticism, or "I'm rubber you're glue...?"

For years when customers had reason speak about their experiences with businesses they have had sites like Yelp and AngiesList to turn to. Be it to express the joy and wonder of a good story as a customer or to tell a tale of horror that makes angels cry, there is a place for it. However it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

Over the years there have been countless negative comments and sharing of bad experiences on these sites. Well now it seems, after receiving one negative comment too many, business owners are taking things to another level.

Fed up with problematic customers, landscaper Matt Stachel started the site NastyClient. Those who pay the membership fee are granted access to reviews of customers by other business owners. The logic is simply a reverse of aforementioned Yelp and AngiesList. In the case of NastyClient members are allowed to read and post reviews of customers. There are even categories for different types of customers: 
The Freebie: The client who keeps asking for things above what’s been agreed to, without offering to pay more. 
The Negotiator: The client who agrees to a price initially but starts shaving figures when it comes time sign a contract.
The Hoverer: The client who stands over the workers’ shoulders.
The Tirekicker: The client who asks for upwards of 10 estimates, then never calls back to say he’s no longer interested.
I'll be the first to say that on one hand there are most certainly customers out there who act in these ways towards the people they are doing business with. I myself have worked as a sales associate and have personally met the Negotiator and I've acted like the Hoeverer before myself at times when I was the customer.

However on the other hand I wonder if the creation of this site is doing more harm than good. Ideally the best thing for customers and businesses to do when differences arise would be to find some sort of peaceful resolution so that both sides get what they need (customer gets the service done, business gets paid for performing the service).

For a long time customers have had an outlet to tell their story and now businesses have their outlet. But will this become a chance for service provider and customer to meet in the middle? Will this forum develop into a place where customers can listen to the service provider's side of things or will this just end up becoming another battleground where there is only shouting and no communication?