If you remember, we were trolled on Low Yat which is an online public forum.
But that’s business.
No matter how kind or considerate one is, there’s bound to be someone out there who is dissatisfied. You can’t please everyone and we learnt the hard way!
It was a crisis all right. We have been in business for 20 years and to have someone publicly call us cons was more than an insult, it was defamation!
The troll wanted to tell the world that we were the awfullest, worst, most horrible people on earth. That’s what trolls do. They want to hurt you and make you angry and ruin your reputation. She even got her friends to leave 1-star reviews on our Facebook page with a slew of nasty comments.
If you are ever faced with such an online problem, here’s how you can help yourself.
Take a leaf from what we learnt from this episode.
Never reply in anger
This has to be said over and over. The moment we read that awful condemnation on LowYat.net, we were upset. And we had every right to be as it was false and malicious. But we chose not to reply in that moment of anger. It is not professional and you don’t want to stoop that low. You can draft a reply but keep it for a day or two.
State the facts clearly
In a public forum like LowYat, everyone’s reading and watching the next move. They’re spectators and they want to see some action. It’s easy to resort to name-calling and temper tantrums. But if you want to be in business, you had better start with stating the facts of the case clearly. I could’ve registered myself under another name and backed myself up (which most people do in order to create the illusion that their “friends” are chiming in their support) but we decided not to. Nic and I decided that we would be fully transparent and let the forum folks be the judge. I signed up for a LowYat account using my real name and email. I also presented my case with facts and I even stated that I was there answering someone who didn’t know the full facts.
Most of all, be honest in stating your case. If you’re in the wrong, admit it. Yet, what riled us was that the story was distorted and mangled out of shape! In fact, we had completed and launched the website, including developing a compelling story and marketing strategy for this person.
But when she accused the website of not bringing in customers, we had to make a tough call. Our website work is to help clients make money but marketing takes time. The website was just launched for heaven’s sakes.
Heck, we are still marketing ourselves 20 years on (we celebrated our 20th anniversary this month) so what makes someone who was barely online and just launched her business thinks that she can sit back and watch the customers rush in?
Nic and I still speak at events (some pro bono even), we still attend business conferences, we diligently update our social media platforms, write articles, create videos etc.
Of course, we are found on Google and we use our own website as a formidable marketing platform but the other marketing activities still need to continue!
Truth be told, we were ready to roll out a series of marketing strategies for her but when someone starts being snide, would you want to help her make money?
Eventually, we told her we were no longer interested in working with her and would terminate the relationship once her website contract with us expires.
So here’s a tip: if you have a client who is making life difficult, get out of the relationship. No amount of money is worth the angst, craziness and frustration. We should only work with people who appreciate the work that we do because what we do makes our clients a lot of money.
Ignore, ignore, ignore!
Trolls usually want to engage you because they want you to get pissed. The best way is to ignore them. Don’t get caught up in the onslaught of their issues. Once you have answered or said your piece, move along. Don’t give them the pleasure of ruining your day. You can also block them if they keep coming at you or report them to the authorities such as Facebook. Also, keep copies of your emails or conversation with that person as this is your proof.
We learnt this from our spiritual practice – learn to forgive the people who have hurt you because you are better. It is not good karmically to bear grudges or wish people ill. What goes around comes around. So once you’ve done your part and stated your case, forgive them. Forgiving them helps us move on.
But if the troll gets nastier and no amount of forgiveness works, you can consult with a lawyer (which was what we did and our lawyer did advise us that we had a very strong case as we had all the documents to prove that we had done what we had set out to do). If the harassment and defamation continue, make a police report and proceed to take the next step with your lawyer.
This craziness made us better
We’ve learnt a lot from this episode and it allowed us to see where we went wrong.
The ability to pay good money for a performance website is only one part of the transaction.
In truth, we’ve become a lot fussier when it comes to accepting clients; we now only take in clients who truly pass all the criteria we set for them because our work doesn’t end with the launch of the website – our work begins the moment we launch the website! (We manage the client’s website after launch so our responsibilities are much higher than usual.)
Since our websites help our clients make money (Dr Somas talks about this in a video), we know that we need to help the right people, the deserving ones, make money.
Not everyone who is able to pay RM20,000 for website development is the right client. And not every client wants to listen.
So for those who don’t want to learn or too obstinate to grow their business, we would rather not take them as clients for they would create countless problems for us in the future.
In a way, this trolling episode has made us more discerning in choosing clients.
What about you? Have you faced a crisis such as this? How did you handle it?