Hug Your Haters (Even If They Don’t Hug You Back)

By Ezekiel J. Rudick
on 18 September 2017

Haters gonna hate. Don’t believe me? Ask Taylor Swift (or Ice T, if campy late-90s gangsta rap is more your flavor). In fact, there’s no escaping the occasional feedback from the world’s Negative Nancys. It doesn’t matter if you and everyone else you know is madly in love with your product.

Actually, one of the very few simple guarantees in life is that not everyone is going to love you. Guess what? There are worse things that not being liked. Take it from Goodwill Hunting’s Sean Maguire.

Embrace your inner Sean Maguire

In the 1997 classic Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams (RIP) brilliantly portrays Sean Maguire, a rough and tumble Boston-raised psychologist who takes on the emotional and mental care of fellow Bostonian and troubled-boy-math-genius played by a very young Matt Damon.

If you’ve got a beating heart, you know the film and you know the scene I’m about to unpack. It all takes place right in the middle of an emotional therapy session, after Matt Damon’s character confesses some pretty horrific childhood memories. Then, at just the right moment, our hero Sean Maguire springs into empathetic action.

If you remember the scene correctly, Sean doesn’t over explain. He doesn’t defend. He repeats one line over and over again: “It’s not your fault.” The more the phrase is repeated, the angrier Damon’s character becomes. Simple. To the point. Undeniably effective.

Sean doesn’t shy away. He advances. The two embrace and everyone in the known universe starts sobbing, clenching an Oscar for the film at the 1998 Oscars—launching the monster careers of screenwriters Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Your angry customers are hurting

The vast majority of your customers have had horrific experiences with other products or services. They have been ignored, poorly served—and in some cases—even stolen from. For some crazy reason, they are opening that cold cavern of a broken heart and trusting your brand with their hard-earned loyalty. So naturally, when these customers even get a whiff of disrespect—perceived or otherwise—they go full Matt Damon on you.

Make no mistake, this is no small event. Once customer trust is breaches, it can be a long road to get it back. In fact, customer satisfaction guru Ruby Newell-Legner tells us that it takes 12 positive interactions with an upset customer to turn that frown upside down.

When your angry customers come at you with that ALL-CAPS brand of anger and frustration, it’s not the time to over explain and blame shift away your responsibility. It’s time to get at the heart of the problem. It’s time to embrace your inner Sean Maguire.

How to have your own Good Will Hunting Moment in Three Steps

  1. Give Up – At this crucial moment in the aforementioned Good Will Hunting scene, it’s not Sean’s first interaction with Damon’s character. In fact, they’ve had several conversations with little forward progress. Yes, even after Sean put years and years of education and experience to use. None of it worked. He threw in the towel and met his patient (read: customer) right where he was. Giving up on everything you “know” about your customer can and will cause a paradigm shift in their experience with your brand.
  2. Listen – There’s valuable information in between the ALL CAPS-laden emails and expletive-filled chat messages. In fact, about half of customers say customer service professionals failed to answer a question. Failing to answer a question is a failure to listen.
  3. Respond – Remember, it’s not your customer’s fault (even if it kind is). It’s your responsibility to own the problem, and do everything in your power to make it right. Don’t be defensive. Don’t blame shift. Again, listen well. What does the feedback tell you? Are they concerned about cost? Are they bummed out about a new feature you just rolled out? Is your marketing department spamming their inbox?

The result is that you can provide Oscar-winning customer service with a little extra nudge from us here at Ask Nicely by amping up your NPS strategy. In fact, we wrote the book on NPS. Get the Happier, More Valuable Customers With NPS® eBook.

Haters gonna hate. Don’t believe me? Ask Taylor Swift (or Ice T, if campy late-90s gangsta rap is more your flavor). In fact, there’s no escaping the occasional feedback from the world’s Negative Nancys. It doesn’t matter if you and everyone else you know is madly in love with your product.

Actually, one of the very few simple guarantees in life is that not everyone is going to love you. Guess what? There are worse things that not being liked. Take it from Goodwill Hunting’s Sean Maguire.

Embrace your inner Sean Maguire

In the 1997 classic Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams (RIP) brilliantly portrays Sean Maguire, a rough and tumble Boston-raised psychologist who takes on the emotional and mental care of fellow Bostonian and troubled-boy-math-genius played by a very young Matt Damon.

If you’ve got a beating heart, you know the film and you know the scene I’m about to unpack. It all takes place right in the middle of an emotional therapy session, after Matt Damon’s character confesses some pretty horrific childhood memories. Then, at just the right moment, our hero Sean Maguire springs into empathetic action.

If you remember the scene correctly, Sean doesn’t over explain. He doesn’t defend. He repeats one line over and over again: “It’s not your fault.” The more the phrase is repeated, the angrier Damon’s character becomes. Simple. To the point. Undeniably effective.

Sean doesn’t shy away. He advances. The two embrace and everyone in the known universe starts sobbing, clenching an Oscar for the film at the 1998 Oscars—launching the monster careers of screenwriters Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Your angry customers are hurting

The vast majority of your customers have had horrific experiences with other products or services. They have been ignored, poorly served—and in some cases—even stolen from. For some crazy reason, they are opening that cold cavern of a broken heart and trusting your brand with their hard-earned loyalty. So naturally, when these customers even get a whiff of disrespect—perceived or otherwise—they go full Matt Damon on you.

Make no mistake, this is no small event. Once customer trust is breaches, it can be a long road to get it back. In fact, customer satisfaction guru Ruby Newell-Legner tells us that it takes 12 positive interactions with an upset customer to turn that frown upside down.

When your angry customers come at you with that ALL-CAPS brand of anger and frustration, it’s not the time to over explain and blame shift away your responsibility. It’s time to get at the heart of the problem. It’s time to embrace your inner Sean Maguire.

How to have your own Good Will Hunting Moment in Three Steps

  1. Give Up – At this crucial moment in the aforementioned Good Will Hunting scene, it’s not Sean’s first interaction with Damon’s character. In fact, they’ve had several conversations with little forward progress. Yes, even after Sean put years and years of education and experience to use. None of it worked. He threw in the towel and met his patient (read: customer) right where he was. Giving up on everything you “know” about your customer can and will cause a paradigm shift in their experience with your brand.
  2. Listen – There’s valuable information in between the ALL CAPS-laden emails and expletive-filled chat messages. In fact, about half of customers say customer service professionals failed to answer a question. Failing to answer a question is a failure to listen.
  3. Respond – Remember, it’s not your customer’s fault (even if it kind is). It’s your responsibility to own the problem, and do everything in your power to make it right. Don’t be defensive. Don’t blame shift. Again, listen well. What does the feedback tell you? Are they concerned about cost? Are they bummed out about a new feature you just rolled out? Is your marketing department spamming their inbox?

The result is that you can provide Oscar-winning customer service with a little extra nudge from us here at Ask Nicely by amping up your NPS strategy. In fact, we wrote the book on NPS. Get the Happier, More Valuable Customers With NPS® eBook.


About the author

Ezekiel J. Rudick

Ezekiel J Rudick — Zeke for short — is AskNicely’s Content and Community Manager. With over a decade of ad agency and SaaS content strategy under his belt, he oversees all things content at AskNicely. When no one’s looking he’s roughhousing with his cat Taco, fronting his indie rock band Young Elk.

Other posts by Ezekiel J. Rudick

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