Your customers are amazing people. They can tell you a lot about your business and many of them do, even if you never hear a word they say. For example, there is a business whose customers are complaining loud and clear that they’re sick of issues with that business but that business is ignoring them to death. Is this happening to you?
Have you ever posted anything on Craigslist? Like so many other Internet-based companies, craigslist.org was a huge interrupter causing newspapers around the country to lose a tremendous amount of advertising revenue from the previous profit center that was classified ads.
It used to be that you would place a classified ad in a local newspaper and locals would see your item and, hopefully, come buy it. That process took several day and classified ads were really expensive, especially in larger metropolitan newspapers. Craigslist took that business and put it on the Internet. They didn’t use a beautiful format, they didn’t do much more than just provide a way to list these items, generally for free. The few paid advertisements covered their minimal costs and it became a free-for-all to advertise whatever you wanted to get out of your life and into someone else’s life.
Rather than being limited to local buyers, people from around the world could see your item and I’ve sold vintage cars via Craigslist to people in Japan and Germany.
But with their success came challenges. Craigslist’s basically open format meant that people could see your telephone number and, sometimes, your email address. By not verifying the buyers at all and doing little to verify the sellers, Craigslist got the attention of scammers.
Recently I posted an ad on Craigslist for a trailer that I’m selling. Within moments of the advertisement going live I got all the typical scam calls that are now a part of a Craigslist ad. The “deaf” person who wants to go through a relay service, the person who wants to send a certified check and have a shipper come pick up the trailer. Having sold a lot of stuff on Craigslist including vehicles, I’ve heard all the scam lines. I hate Craigslist but it works.
Craigslist is aware of this so as part of their terrible user interface is a link to a page on how to avoid craigslist.org scams. Most people don’t even know this information is there. This is how they’re “fixing” the problem - providing a somewhat obscure web page.
Facebook is trying more and more to become the entire internet for people. They started innocently enough as a place for friends. But with over a billion verified user accounts they now have a tremendous resource for other things besides just political rants and posts about what you made for dinner.
Recently they changed the user interface on their popular mobile platform to include a “shopping” button. This annoyed me until I put that same trailer for sale on Facebook in what they call their Facebook Marketplace. Within a few days I had a number of qualified buyers come look at the trailer who were legitimate.
Part of the reason they’re legitimate is that there is an accountability in having your real information on Facebook. This solves the biggest problem Craigslist has which is probably going to mean the ultimate demise of Craigslist, unless they listen and fix the issue customers have been complaining about for years.
Ebay foresaw this problem and used PayPal as a payment gateway, significantly reducing the number of scams on their platform. Craigslist is doing nothing.
In another blog, I spoke about customers repeatedly presenting you with the same challenges. At Disneyland they use this as a learning tool to eliminate those challenges. But if you’re hearing the same complaint or question over and over, it’s really time to look at how you’re addressing that complaint. Because if you don’t, someone else might.
Just as Facebook is addressing the complaints that Craigslist users have had for years. Because if you don’t address your customers’ complaints, someone else ultimately will.
Written by Anthony B. Barthel