Defuse Dissatisfaction Online

#### Over the last 24 hours, I had the opportunity to experience one of the frustrating sides of social media.

Communication tools/channels/systems have evolved and friction (complexity, difficulty, cost) has been reduced; it’s easier than ever to proactively engage with your customers and try to make them happy or solve their problems.

Yesterday, my mom had a bad experience at the Eden Meander shopping mall. It angered me so I posted about it on Facebook. I posted publicly and tagged the Eden Meander page, giving the brand a chance to respond (by commenting on the post or sending me a private message), which they didn’t do.

I could have made more of an effort and contacted the mall during working hours (it was 19:49 when I published the post) or sent an email but I was frustrated and wanted the brand to respond quicker than they possibly would’ve via email.

Although social media is a great place to receive positive feedback, brands should be prepared to cope with negative feedback without getting confrontational.

**My original post:**

As you’ll see from the comments, it got a bit intense and people were rightfully angry because it’s downright discriminatory behaviour.

I found it entertaining how completely unrelated parties told me that something that had happened to my mom somehow did not happen. Is George entering the era of fake facts? What makes people think they can correct me about an incident they don’t know anything about?

#### Eden Meander turned on their computer for the day.

Eventually, midway through the day (keeping in mind social media doesn’t sleep) the Eden Meander page decided to post something about the situation. Someone else copied the content and pasted it as a comment on my post.

**Eden Meander’s post about the situation:**

All the brand has done is issue a blanket Vaguebooking statement to say that “Motorcyclists are welcome”.

The world has changed; it is customer centric and with social media brands have direct access to engage with their clients in constructive dialogue.

The discussion started on Facebook so the brand could have sent me a private Facebook message to address the situation and try to ease my frustration.

If the person managing the Facebook page had made the effort to read the whole thread and not simply fire off a defensive shot he/she would have seen that my mom had also responded to my post. Eden Meander could have easily engaged my mom directly but did not make the effort.

No one has apologised, offered an explanation, bothered to find out what exactly happened or addressed the specific events that occurred yesterday.

Eden Meander said we can follow up with them if we’re unhappy and they would love to “sit down and chat”. It’s not the consumer’s responsibility to follow up with a business, or try to make the business happy, or resolve a frustrating situation. It’s the responsibility of the business to engage with the customer and go out of its way to try resolve conflicts and make customers happy. This is commonly referred to as customer service.

##### Observations

Complaining online doesn’t always help in the ways you think it will because the people monitoring the social media accounts appear not to care or don’t seem to take the time to listen to understand; they seem to only be interested in responding. It could also be that they’re simply not equipped to deal with the situations professionally in terms of training, experience, emotional intelligence etc.

Complaining seems to get other people angry and give trolls something to engage on.

However, the post must have made an impact. We went to the mall this afternoon and noticed more than one normal parking bay occupied by a motorcycle which was prohibited yesterday.

##### As consumers, how should we deal with negative/bad/unpleasant situations/experiences in future?

I’m not sure what the right approach is.

Personally, I’ll probably still make the effort to complain if I think the business will be receptive to the complaint, but if I don’t think it will be I’ll probably do what I’ve done with other businesses in George that have given bad service – boycott them. It sucks boycotting a business with a good product and bad customer service because George has limited options as it is but at least I’m not supporting a business that doesn’t truly care about the customers it is dependent on for its survival.

##### Lessons for businesses

Social media is a 24 hour job and a simple issue can get blown out of proportion if you don’t address it quickly and professionally.

Address a complaint directly and don’t make resolving a complaint a customer’s responsibility.

Management of a business may have the best intentions but consumers develop opinions about a brand based on their experiences engaging with first line staff and people on the ground. Don’t implement a policy without training your staff sufficiently.

Customer care/support staff should have the ability to empathise with customers. If someone does not have empathy or can’t fake it, she/he should not work in a support or customer facing role.

A complaint is an opportunity to build a better relationship with your customers. A customer who complains cares enough to give you the chance to resolve and rescue a situation, you might not have been aware of, and retain their business and potentially that of other customers who may not have been willing to make the effort to complain. A customer who does not complain and simply never comes back is lost revenue forever.

Jobbing/Freelancing Research

**Dev shops/agencies**, I’m doing some research into what is currently pissing people off when it comes to methods of sourcing design/development work online, especially in terms of the common jobbing/freelancing sites.

Some of the pet peeves include:

* Complex billing models (both for client and freelancer)
* Crap User Experiences (too much to fit into a bullet list)
* No Quality Control over the content on the site
* Clients can just post what ever crap they want without any QA thus wasting a lot of (agency) time when screening potential projects, prior to even submitting a proposal
* A lot of the projects are just spammy and unrealistic
* “build me a Uber clone for $5.00”
* “build be a Twitter clone for $100.00”
* Many of the projects have no proper description or instructions at all, it’s difficult to know what people expect
* Existing systems are focused on individuals but provide little functionality to make it easy to engage as a team
* systems force you to use their own messaging platform which is clumsy and results in delays in client communications and a fragmented workflow
* General client approach to spending
* “Your price is too high, but please send me a quote anyway because I need to give my boss 3 quotes”
* “We spent thousands on the previous dev team and they botched the job, therefore our budget is now tiny but you can use their code, so it should be quick and easy”

What’s missing from the list? What would make your life easier from an agency/dev shop perspective.

I’d love to hear from you, please hit my up on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Last Christmas

Last Christmas, I gave you my invoice
But the very next day, you threw it away
This year, to maintain cashflow
I asked you to pay, the amount you still owe

Last Christmas, I gave you my invoice
But the very next day, you threw it away
This year, to maintain cashflow
I asked you to pay, the amount you still owe (still owe)

But what do you know
We’re still up shit creek
I’m nagging you
For what is due

Once bitten and twice shy
Next time you need help, don’t bother to try
Tell me do you recognise me?
I’ve lost so much weight, it doesn’t surprise me

We developed the app and then launched it
Invoiced and said thanks for your business, I meant it
Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you asked for help now I know you’d try fool me again

Last Christmas, I gave you my invoice
But the very next day, you threw it away
This year, to maintain cashflow
I asked you to pay, the amount you still owe (still owe)

Last Christmas, I gave you my invoice
But the very next day, you threw it away
This year, to maintain cashflow
I asked you to pay, the amount you still owe (still owe)

###### *Footnotes*

[^n]: Humour is good for you so embrace it.
[^n]: I’ve been on both sides of the table and totally understand what it’s like to be strapped for cash and unable to settle accounts. If you’re in this position, don’t be an asshat. Be upfront and honest, answer the phone and respond to email queries. Make token payments whenever you can and just be human.

Pay the bills

Tis the season to cancel domains without notice
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Transfer to a new hosting company while you still owe us
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Force MyEcommerce to nag for payment
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Long term clients, neglect to pay us
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Amelia manages not to lose her cool
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

We owe people because others have not paid us
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
The people we help the most consistently fail us
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

The coffee is good and the cheese cake is famous
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Screw UNISA!

It’s fucking unreal what a piece of shit institution UNISA is.

If you have ever tried to study through UNISA you will understand what I mean but for those who have not yet tried to look into the abyss, let me paint you a picture.

UNISA is the default tertiary distance learning institution in South Africa. You might say, “well fuck, what should that mean to me?” which is exactly what I am going to explain.

You see, studying in South Africa is shit fuck expensive and on top of the academic fees and cost of outdated printed fucking text books, we live in a country where a good portion of the population is poor and can’t afford to move to one of the cities to study, let alone study full time. This means a large portion of our population with academic ambitions has no other choice but to earn while they learn and study via correspondence.

This should be an easy problem to solve, make all the content available for free digitally(UNISA is funded by the fucking government) and offer a printed version at a reasonable fee to cover the cost of materials and shipping.

Now that we’ve got content covered, the next thing to keep in mind is exams. Learners should register and pay for exams to help cover the cost of assessment and moderation. If they fail an exam, I guess it is fair to give them a chance to rewrite; the other option would be to make exam fees cheap enough so that people can just pay to write again if they fail and then those who pass first time save some cash.

The next blatantly fucking obvious issue we need to address is fucking operating hours.

Taking everything I have already mentioned into consideration, the _typical_ UNISA learner is working to pay for her/his shit fucking studying experience in an effort to lift themselves out of poverty and have a better life.

The fucking stupid inconsiderate idiots that run UNISA only work _normal_ business hours, this makes it fucking difficult for any normal human being trying to hold down a job to go to a physical office.

The obvious thing to do would be for UNISA offices to be open early in the morning through to the evenings to make it easier for distance learners to actually get to the office to do some of the admin that is just fucking impossible to do online at the moment. Also spend some money and fix the fucking LMS(learning management system).

Now for the useless as fuck call centre. A distance learning institution that does not have offices open and accessible to normal people(who happen to be paying customers) should at a bare minimum answer its fucking call centre phones and support email but, as you can probably guess, the dip shits don’t do either of these things properly. If they just fix the fucking call centre they will save people a shit ton of time and effort.

So let’s say you’re actually able to navigate the labyrinth and become a UNISA student. One of the first things you will become familiar with is the Errata. These stupid fucks, who have got digital copies of their learning materials available, don’t bother to fix their own stupid mistakes, which are sometimes seriously colossal. Instead, after shipping out learning material, sometimes even after the first assignments are due, they send learners printed notes and corrections that the learners need to make to the study materials in order to not learn the incorrect information. This just goes to show the lack of quality control, management and common sense at this idiotic institution.

One of the most recent fucking blunders of this fucking impossible to work with institution is applications. The fucking idiots have now made it near impossible for someone to register with them. The ink on exam results has barely even dried but applications for 2016 have closed. This means people who wrote exams in 2015 are fucked and need to wait another 12 months before continuing with their studies. What type of piece of shit institution does this to paying customers?!

South African students have a lot more shit to deal with than simply study fees falling, we need institutions to respect the fucking people paying their salaries and operate with some fucking integrity.

Advice for a first time tech entrepreneur

If it’s your first time working for yourself then you have some difficult lessons ahead, because firstly it’s a lie. You are not working for yourself, you are working for your suppliers, current and future employees, your clients and the government. They all get paid before you do.

The big difference is you now get to live pre-tax which can be very exciting.

You need to develop routines and figure out what you need to be spending your time on as soon as possible.

If you are actively coding yourself, you will need to allocate time to biz dev and time to development.

Remember most clients are awake during the day so you will probably need to do biz dev in the day and develop at night.

Parents play a major role in financial literacy

My mom used to give my brother and I a fixed amount of pocket money each month. She taught us about *budgeting* from an early age. We needed to adjust our spending to fit within the amount of money we had. If we wanted to spend money on something more expensive, we could loan money from her and pay her back out of our pocket money — she didn’t charge us interest but taught us about credit from a young age.

At one point I decided to use my pocket money as seed funding to buy sweets and then sold the sweets at a profit to buy more sweets. This was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey.

I wrote a previous piece on my approach to savings and investment.