One milestone you can look forward to as a website publisher is the day you receive your first complaint.
Don’t sweat it. Celebrate it.
You’ve enjoyed sufficient traffic to field a complaint.
There are two types of website complainers.
The two types of website complainers
The first type is the “you can do better complainer“.
This type likes your site and maybe even likes you but believes you should and could do better.
The complaint clearly communicates that your site (or email newsletter) annoyed them, but they’re polite about it. They want to remain a reader but thought you should know that you should do better in some way.
What don’t they like?
I could be any number of things such as:
Too many ads on the site.
A spelling mistake or poor grammar.
Website is a bit too slow for their liking.
The bottom line is these complainers mean well. I almost always take the time to reply.
An example of such a complaint would be “hey website owner… I really liked your article setting out the “20 reasons bell bottoms were the best pant design ever” but I have a suggestion. I think your site has a few too many ads on it, especially the pop-up ads“.
It’s a gentle but clear complaint.
Yes, I’ve received such complaints.
Even if I have no intention to reduce the ads, I reply. I say something such as:
“Are you a total ignoramus? I gotta eat you know. There’s no free lunch. You enjoyed my site for free. It cost ya nothing and yet you have temerity to waste my time complaining about the ads that feed and clothe my children? My guess is you’re a miserable SOB. If you don’t like it start your own website.”
Phew, that was cathartic to write.
And no, that is NOT how I reply to complaints. That was a joke. I felt like blowing off some steam.
Here’s what I say to such complaints:
“Hey Sandy, thanks so much for taking the time to give us feedback. We really appreciate it. I totally understand where you’re coming from. We are constantly looking to improve our site for our visitors by balancing the ads which keep the lights on and ensuring a good visitor experience. Your email will prompt further review of this balancing act. Thanks again for letting us know how we could improve.”
Something like that.
And yes, I have reduced ads as a result of visitor complaints. Not always but it’s happened.
The second type of complainer is the “rage-filled complainer“.
Usually these folks have other problems in their life or are having a bad day and your site was the catalyst that launched them into a rage.
They send you expletive filled, ALL CAPS emails filled with ad hominem attacks about how terrible of a person you are.
Buried within the insults and curse words you decipher that they think your site doesn’t load fast enough or a link didn’t work or you used “to” when you should have used “too”.
Again, nothing major.
But these unreasonable folks think you’re hosing them in some way. Or maybe they believe they’re entitled to an ad-free internet experience.
They’re usually precious. They expect to be treated special. They’re the types of people that grovel up, kick down.
And so their annoyance level hits a critical level while on your site so they hunt for your email or contact form and let you have it.
These complaints are fun to receive. The first one might sting a bit but if you step back and realize these folks are borderline lunatics, it takes the sting away.
I usually don’t bother replying unless I’m bored.
I might reply to an over-the-top rude “too many ads” complaint as follows:
Hey Pat, thanks so much for your kind comment. You made my day taking the time to let me know how I could improve the website. I particularly found helpful the part where you told me that I’m a F&@$ing A##!&*e. That’s exactly what I needed to hear and that will definitely help me do a better job. I look forward to hear from you again.
Yes, I have replied pretty much exactly like that to expletive-filled, rager complaints.
Both types of complainers are highly motivated
A complainer of either type is highly emotionally charged to actually take the time to complain.
Think about it. They actually take the time to find your contact page and then write you a complaint. They’re serious folks.
I can’t recall a time I submitted a complaint to a website.
I guess I have too much going on.
But I’ve received my share.
You will too.
Don’t take it personally.
Wear it like a badge of honor.
Print it out and frame it.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.