There is a lot of negativity in the world today. Psychologists and media experts have attributed much of it to the anonymity of social media. I have to say that, in large part, I agree. I have noticed that the dealer forums and Facebook groups that are specific to our industry and product lines have been getting more and more negative. Years ago, when I was first participating in these forums heavily, dealers were helping each other out. It was a lot of questions asked and others jumping in to answer them, solve problems, or maybe commiserate that they were seeing the same thing. Over time, however, I have seen it shift to a more aggressive and negative tone.
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We need to keep things positive. I understand that dealers are frustrated with a lot of different things happening in our industry. We are getting squeezed by DIY products. Network-centric product lines are often not as stable and require more TLC. Faster product development cycles can result in more bugs making it to market. All these things can be hard to accept and deal with — I know because I deal with them on a regular basis myself. But that is the nature of the beast in this industry. We all chose this industry for one reason or another. Many chose this career path because it is exciting, ever-changing and dynamic. And it is all those things. But to get all that excitement, there will be flaws, too.
We need to address our concerns in a positive and constructive way. We can’t be on social media, even if it is closed dealer-only groups, bashing the brands and the product. We can provide constructive criticism and give suggestions for improvement, but slamming the companies and products does no good for anyone. It frustrates the manufacturers and takes their focus away from their priorities. Imagine how you would feel about being slammed on social media by your clients — they feel the same way and are often then sent on ad-hoc, unstructured projects by senior management. I have seen dealers on these groups use atrocious language, call the product everything under the Sun, and denigrate the product managers. That is no way to get anyone on your side and go the extra mile to help you. Who do you want to help more: the client who calls you screaming or the one who is understanding but firm in their concerns?
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If instead of complaining about the product and those who developed it, we could all provide solid, actionable information, it would be better for everyone involved. Let the forum know what you’ve run into as the problem. I bet others have, too, and many of them have probably already found the solution and are happy to share it with you. Provide actionable criticism, letting the developers know that a procedure is slow or is not intuitive, giving them suggestions for improvements. As my mother always said, treat them as you would want to be treated. We can all easily put ourselves in their shoes, as we are in their shoes when the client has an issue.
Just remember that honey goes a lot further than vinegar.