How Should You Handle Complaints by Other Direct Sellers?

Last week I wrote an article called Stop Complaining! where I called out salespeople who think it’s OK to complain on the company’s public Facebook Page.  Based on the comments and the way the post was spread around, it obviously resonated with you.  We all get frustrated with this bad behavior.

But what are we doing about it?

Sure, companies and their compliance departments can reach out to people and ask them to direct their concerns more appropriately.  But in all honesty, there’s only so much the company can say.  After all, they’re not in the business of silencing people.  Nor do they want to cause anyone to quit doing business.  So it’s a careful line that companies must walk, and sometimes they’re just stuck with dealing with the criticism, however inappropriate it might be.

So where does that leave the rest of the sales force?  After all, when these complainers get started in public, it can affect YOUR ability to do business too.  There’s a role that consultants, and especially leaders, must play here, too.

  1. Training: Leaders in direct selling companies provide training all the time to their downlines.  Are you specifically addressing how people should handle things when they’re not happy?  Be sure that your team knows where it is – and isn’t – appropriate to voice concerns.  Make sure you also emphasize just how public social networks really are.
  2. Modeling: Leaders need to make sure they’re demonstrating, through their own actions, how to behave on social networks.  Be sure you’re sticking to the 9 value posts for every 1 business post rule, and when something goes wrong, address it in private.
  3. Guiding: When someone on your team does post inappropriately in public, send a private note to that person.  We can’t hold back here if we hope to change things.  Sometimes we get worried that people will get mad at us, but this kind of post can make the entire company look bad and damage everyone’s ability to do business.  Let the complainers know where they can direct their concerns (we’re never trying to silence people!) and remind them how public Facebook is.  You might also let them know what the consequences could be if customers see their post…we don’t always think about that.

But what if it’s someone that’s not on your team and you see something negative?

  1. Overwhelm the negative with positive. If you see a negative comment on a thread, counter it with a specific, positive post.  If customers do see the negative post, they’ll also see a counter-point, and get a more balanced view.
  2. Reach out. If you feel like you can (and especially if you know them), reach out to that consultant privately with the information about how to let their concerns be heard privately.  Remind them that customers can see what they post on the Facebook Page.  Let them know that you do want their concerns to be heard, but the best way to ensure that their concerns get to the right person is to send them through the right channels.  After all, it’s usually the PR or social media team that’s running the Facebook Page.  That’s probably not the department you’re trying to reach anyway.

And finally, say thank you.  One of the things that really struck me in the comments on Friday were the corporate people who talked about how disheartening it is to be “slapped” in public by negative comments, when all they’ve done is work, sometimes for months, on programs to benefit those very consultants.  It really is just wrong.  I remember when I was running my direct sales company, and consultants would complain after we worked so hard on getting a fabulous program out for consultants.  It was awful.

Remember, folks, these are human beings in your company. It’s not just a nameless, faceless program.  There are people behind every single thing that comes to you.  People may have spent weeks or months creating what they thought was the very best possible thing for you.  Maybe you would have done things differently.  But so what?  People are working hard FOR YOU so that you can do your business.  Show a little appreciation and kindness.  Maybe even send a private note to someone in your company today, letting them know how much you appreciate them.  Focus on what’s RIGHT for a change.

It’s up to all of us to end this bad online behavior.  Your company can’t do it alone.  Don’t be afraid to step up and say something when people complain in public on the company’s social media profiles.  Set the example, be sure people understand the impact of their complaints, and say something when they do it anyway.  It’s time for this to stop.

Your thoughts?  Please share them in the comments!

4 Responses to How Should You Handle Complaints by Other Direct Sellers?
  1. Lisa Fehr
    February 22, 2011 | 2:56 pm

    LOVE this, Jennifer! Thanks again for hitting the nail on the head!

    • Jennifer Fong
      February 22, 2011 | 7:33 pm

      Thanks Lisa!

  2. Jill Pfefer
    November 16, 2010 | 5:02 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    Thanks for writing these articles about complaints. Social media is new to all of us and I think it’s easy to forget how much a negative entry can effect the company and all of it’s consultants.
    I also appreciate you pointing out how much goes into a certain campaign on the corporate side- I don’t think people take that into consideration as well.
    Thanks for your wonderful articles!

    Jill Pfefer
    Sydney Andrews

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