When your customers complain, be sure you understand what they want before you take action.

I recently downloaded a free digital product. I absolutely understood that the source was going to try to sell me more products—and that’s fine. But in the first few days after I downloaded the product, I was inundated with emails from the source.

These weren’t information emails with tips on how to use their product. These were link-bait style sales pitches.

I started to unsubscribe but I really didn’t want to. I wanted to take the time to try the product and I would have bought more had I liked it.

But I was irked at the volume of email I was getting, so I clicked the unsubscribe link to see if they offered a way to reduce the number of emails they were sending from more than once a day to maybe weekly—that choice wasn’t available.

So I sent this in reply to one of their marketing messages:

I am so ready to completely unsubscribe from your emails.

I’m not counting, I’m deleting — to the rate of 2-3 per day. Too much!!!! I just downloaded your product a few days ago, and I’ve been bombarded with “buy more” ever since.

Here’s the reply I received:

Hi, Jacquelyn.

Thanks so much for your feedback. I’ve passed it straight onto [deleted].

No problem at all. I’ve gone ahead and unsubscribed you right away. 🙂

You shouldn’t receive any further messages from us once your request is processed, but if anything slips through the net, please just let me know and I’ll get right onto it.

If you’d still like to keep in touch with us and receive promotions and updates, without us sending you email, you can follow us on Twitter at [deleted]. You can also follow our Facebook page at [deleted].

Thanks again, and if you need anything else, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Stay amazing —

Obviously, she misunderstood what I wanted. I’ll take responsibility for that, and I replied:

I apologize for not being clear in my earlier email. I’ll blame that on my frustration.

I didn’t want to be completely unsubscribed from your list. I was interested enough to download your free products and give them a try, and I expected to get additional information (as well as a sales pitch) from you.

However, [your product doesn’t] produce instant results, so it was more than annoying to be getting so many “buy, buy, buy” emails from you so quickly.

I’m going to offer you some free marketing advice:

  1. Consider scaling back on the number of emails that go out within the first week of a new person joining your list.
  2. As an alternative, offer an option that would allow subscribers to receive fewer emails.
  3. Instead of the “buy, buy, buy” message in the emails that go out immediately after someone subscribes, consider some training on how to use your product and track results.
  4. Change that customer-facing list name to something that isn’t so sales-focused. Yes, I know that by accepting your offer I have become a prospect, but I still don’t want to be called that.

While I’m not going to follow you on social media, I wouldn’t mind getting occasional follow-up emails. Just not daily (or more frequently).

I thought that in this second message I had made it clear that I was still interested in receiving information from this company. Apparently not, from this reply:

Hi, Jacquelyn.

I understand completely.

Thanks so much for your feedback. I’ve passed it straight onto [deleted].

If I can ever answer questions about our products or help further, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Stay amazing –

Then they sent me a customer satisfaction survey. I let them know I wasn’t satisfied because she had not understood me at all, much less completely. And here’s the response:

My apologies that your request wasn’t satisfied.

I do understand that you were receiving too many emails. Unfortunately, we only have a few options to remedy this:

1) Unsubscribe you completely
2) Unsubscribe you from the [specific name deleted] newsletter, however remain on the general [deleted] newsletter

From your email, seeing that you tried to unsubscribe, I understood this is what you wanted and wanted to assist you in doing just that.

Rest assured, I have passed along your feedback to [deleted], and we do sincerely appreciate your input.

Stay amazing —

But even with that additional information, I’m not sure what she did. And if I really have been completely removed from their email list, they’ve lost a prospective customer.

Lesson: Customers who take the time to complain are usually saying they want to continue doing business with you.

When a customer isn’t happy, come up with a solution but find out if it’s satisfactory before you implement it. Even smarter is to first confirm that you understand the issue and then ask: What would it take to resolve this situation?

If what the customer (or prospective customer) wants is reasonable and possible, do it. If it’s not, offer an alternative.

But never assume you know what the customer really wants without confirming it.

Jacquelyn Lynn
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