Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dealing With Dipsticks Online

To flame or not to flame, that is the question; whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous dipsticks or by opposing, end them...


Uh, don't. Really, don't. It's not worth the aggro. But there are ways you can take these people on and, if you don't get satisfaction, at least make them aware of your displeasure in a professional manner.


Discussion boards


So you're on a discussion forum or message board and someone makes a post or comment that annoys you. The last thing you should do is make a personal attack in which you basically throw up all over them.


So what do you do?


1. Write it out. Open Notepad or a Word document and post your bile-filled rant in there. Now read it out loud. You can't send that, it's too rude!


2. Okay, if you still feel the same way, walk away and make yourself a nice cup of tea. Still feel like tearing that person up? Think about it: would you hire a person who writes comments like that? What if your employer sees it? You can do more damage to your own reputation than a thousand trolls so be careful how you come across online.


3. Now that you've had a bit of time to think this through, ask yourself if it's worth responding to this person. Okay, go over your rant and pull out the most pertinent points. These will be the reasons why he's wrong, not a detailed description of his provenance or personal habits. At no point should you use rude or accusing words.


Wrong:



You've got it all wrong, you jackass! What do you know about anything? I could bury you! Your article/comment/post is a pile of poo. My five-year-old could do a better job.



Right:



It's too easy to take what you've read elsewhere as being true, particularly when it's being repeated, but (insert facts here).



If you think I'm being all Captain Obvious here you haven't seen some of the discussions I've read on certain forums on Linked In -- and elsewhere. Anyone is entitled to disagree with what they read but there's no need to go postal on someone when you do.


4. If someone is clearly talking out of their hat about themselves and their abilities, take some time out to laugh at them, then go and find some relevant links and post them in that thread with as few comments as possible. Sometimes links alone will suffice.


5. You're not morally obliged to get the last word in. I have to remind myself of this often enough!


6. Trolls love to stir up trouble and get people to take sides. If you see a situation like that brewing, get out of Dodge. Arguing with a troll is like sailing into a maelstrom. You lose whether you're right or not because they love to twist your words to cast you in the worst light possible, bring out the worst of you and provoke you to behave as badly as they do. Don't fall into the trap -- that's the object of the exercise.


7. Never make exaggerated claims about anything. A simple Google search can quickly make a monkey out of you if someone finds compromising links (or none at all) and posts them in response to something you say, so don't brag if you can't back it up.


8. If you're easily offended or require special consideration to protect your delicate feelings you probably shouldn't be online. Nobody needs a reputation for throwing tantrums on the internet, especially on professional forums.


9. Never fight another person's battles for them. See #8 above for the reason why.


10. Always be gracious whether you win or lose. If you turn out to be in the wrong, be man (or woman) enough to admit defeat and get over it.


Customer service


If you want to annoy me, insult me; take my money and give me little or nothing in return; lie to me; patronise me; or treat me like an idiot. Oh, and slander really gets on my wick. The customer service offered by certain online services providers has been driving me nuts lately because it's been so terrible.


So what do you do?


1. Use Live Help if they have it; this is often the quickest, most effective way of getting your problem solved. Avoid using the phone number unless you know it's not one of those premium rate numbers that will bleed you dry.


2. If you use the support ticket system, be aware that it may take some time for them to get back to you.


3. Identify the problem and report it as clearly as possible, sticking to the facts as they appear to you. Be willing to admit that the problem may be due to an error on your part.


4. Be polite. Sometimes the problem you're having is beyond the scope of your provider to deal with. If you failed to find out beforehand what they won't do, then are confronted with that issue, don't go nuts at them, just ask what you can do to rectify the problem.


5. If they're being obtuse or denying there's a problem, take a screenshot and send it to them to show them what the situation is from your point of view.


6. If they send you a survey, fill it in and use it to complain that the support people didn't seem to know much and were very unhelpful. That sometimes works for me.


7. Be firm; stick to your guns. If they're not doing their job properly, tell them you are disappointed and may take your business elsewhere if their service doesn't improve.


8. If the threat doesn't work, take your business elsewhere. Be aware that you are unlikely to get a refund.


9. Be sure to tell them why you have moved and that you will be recommending that your friends and associates avoid them because of the way they treated you.


10. It's quite perfectly reasonable to complain about bad service from service providers online; it sometimes stings them into improving. Just be sure to stick to the facts and refrain from hyperbole, insults, or personal attacks. Taking screenshots or keeping copies of correspondence could be handy if they challenge you about your comments.


Wrong:



Those people are idiots. They're all a bunch of crooks running a scam to rob their customers.



Right:



I was very disappointed with their service because they seemed to be unwilling to engage with me and my problem. It's as if they're in a call centre working from a script and don't really know much about the thing they're supposed to be offering support for. They kept telling me to call their support line but it's an expensive premium number and I doubt that it would be any more helpful than they were.



Again, I've seen some wild histrionics online in reference to certain companies and the way they operate so pardon me for playing Miss Manners here. It's just that I find it hard to take rabid accusations seriously. A reasonable, fact-filled complaint will get my attention and possibly persuade me to the point of view of the person making it.


I'm writing this mostly to remind myself not to go off on one because I've had a bad customer experience. I'm absolutely seething at the moment and writing tends to get it out of my system. If it helps other people, I'll consider it a bonus.

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