Tuesday , 23 July 2019
I have a policy in my store: If I make a mistake with your order, or if one of my products fails you, I am going to serve you so well that you’ll hope I screw up again in the future.

How to Satisfy a Customer Complaint

DINO - little pink & blue valentines dinosaur

DINO - little pink & blue valentines dinosaur | by: FizziMizzi

How to Satisfy a Customer Complaint

I love when customers contact me to discuss a problem with their order. It’s more than a complaint. It means the customer had high expectations of my shop, that they wanted to love their piece of jewelry, and something’s gone wrong. More than that, it means that they saw a future for us, as business and client, but something blew it for them.

A disappointed customer will only take the time to contact you if they intended to be a repeat customer. This communication is your golden opportunity to create a bond for life, so knock their socks off. In my case, if the Energy Shop wasn’t worth the customer’s salt, they would toss the product and I would never hear from them again. I have a policy in my store: If I make a mistake with your order, or if one of my products fails you, I am going to serve you so well that you’ll hope I screw up again in the future.

Because my products exist to help my customers serve their best life, my jewelry come with a 150% Satisfaction Guarantee. Think about it, if I create jewelry to remind you of your best intentions, but it doesn’t fit right, what happens every time you put it on? Would you think, “I am going to have one of the best days of my life!”, or would you think, “This bracelet is too big!”? You would think the latter and it would drain your energy, instead of inspire it.

It can sometimes be difficult to take the criticism, but the customer’s issue with the product is never personal. Sometimes other people’s distress won’t make complete sense to you. Customers can get ruffled up for reasons we can’t comprehend, and sometimes we have a gut reaction to respond.  When we see someone upset, we get upset too, or we get anxious and try to calm them.

Here, I am reminded of how my four year old responds to an upset scene. She stays calm and quiet, and her face reads, “I don’t have any idea what’s going on here, and that’s okay.” She patiently waits for the unhappy to unfold, so things will get back to normal. Her ego hasn’t fully developed, and it doesn’t occur to her to get worked up simply because everyone else around her is upset.

I bring that attitude to an upset customer. I can’t be sure what their expectations were. I don’t know what they predict my response is going to be. It doesn’t always look good, but I can try my best to resolve the situation to their full satisfaction.

Therefore, I suggest you take none of the customer’s complaint personally. Simply serve them. Forget the first order, figure out what they expected, and then exceed those expectations. I know we have all dealt with crappy customer service—don’t be that guy! Instead:

1. Script your reply to the complaint as if you were talking to your best friend. Don’t “apologize for any inconvenience.” Everybody says that. Old Navy says that. You’re selling your handmade creations, and that’s personal business, so this apology should be personal. Say, “I’m sorry for your (upset/disappointment/dissatisfaction/frustration).”

2. Acknowledge their frustration, but save the excuses. I know that the baby gets the flu, or some other pressing issue comes up. But here, DO be like Old Navy. Hear your customer, but don’t make excuses—in doing so, you’re asking the customer to hear your side of things, and that’s not their job! I told you to make the apology personal, but don’t forget that the order is a business transaction.

3.Don’t pass the buck. If you were waiting on supplies, but they didn’t get there on time, that’s your own faulty planning—don’t throw your supplier under the bus. When you’re dealing with an upset customer, it’s always your fault. Anything less is just another excuse.

4. Do not inconvenience your customer. This is my main issue with big business today. When a large company makes a mistake with my online order, it often turns into the work that I have to do for them to get my order corrected—Call this number to discuss your issue, gather shipping materials and postage, return it here to this address. In other words, in order for them to process my order correctly, I have to correct the mistake they made on my first order (which usually takes about an hour of my valuable time). This always leaves me wondering, why am I doing all this work to give you my hard-earned cash?

Realize that your customer doesn’t have the shipping materials that you probably have on hand, and returns would be pretty inconvenient. Sometimes I need materials back, and in those cases, I send a self-addressed, stamped packaged with their replacement order. More often though, I cut my losses to leave the customer satisfied with their transaction. My first thought in resolving any issue is, “how can I make this simple and convenient for my customer?”

5. Thank them for allowing you to correct your mistake. I LOVE making things right with my customers. Like I said, it’s a golden opportunity to build a stronger bond. Appreciate them for caring enough to contact you in the first place.

All the best and good luck to you! 

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12 comments

  1. I had a customer who had a mishap with a ring he bought. It got caught and the coil unwound, plus it was a copper plated wire and he was upset the silver rubbed off. The only way I found out about it was instead of contacting me, he left negative feed back. Despite that I jumped on the feedback and sent an email. I polity stated the ring catching is unfortunate but I can’t be held responsible for that. Once the jewelry leaves my possession it is the buyer’s responsibility to care for it. Then I addressed the next problem, the wire. I explained the wire stating the difference between the sterling silver version and the one he bought. THEN I offered to upgrade to the sterling silver for free. The customer accepted and I shipped the new ring out.
    I was a little leery saying what I did about the customer being responsible for the care of the jewelry but I felt it was true. If I go in a store and buy something it’s my job to care for it. If it’s a delicate glass vase I can’t sling it around and expect the store to replace it.
    In the end I think I made up to the customer but I’m not quite sure if he’d ever come back. I know no matter what I’d be a little leery too.

  2. I totally agree with this article. I love making my jewelry and put alot of heart and soul into each piece. If my customer doesn’t feel the same way about it, I want them to send it back for a full refund. The customer always comes first and I don’t want them to have something that they don’t just love! I will even take back custom rings I can always find someone with the same ring size that will love the piece.
    I communicate well with any hold-ups, if you have to wait more than a couple days for a non custom piece I include an extra something special.
    So far my customer 1st policy has worked out very well, I have alot of repeat buyers.

  3. I totally agree and will add that at any time one believes the customer is out of line, I’ve still found it best to act 100% in their best interests….getting an aggravating situation, no matter who is responsible, resolved, behind you and beyond it is worth time, money and emotional peace. When the house is on fire, one doesn’t want to linger.

  4. I so love this article. You are right on, and some of the best friendships and business relationships are built on an odd encounter or mistake at first.

  5. Lisa,

    I totally agree with you. The customer is king. Great article – Thank you.

    * * * * *

    Patricia,

    You did everything right for your customer, except perhaps pointing out that all the responsibilities were not yours. It smacks of “not my problem”.

    You are right of course, it IS no longer your responsibility, but since you went on to upgrade to Sterling Silver anyway, you might have been better to say nothing in that respect.

    I do hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I’m looking at it from the customers point of view.

    Sue
    Amazing Beads

  6. Good post, Lisa. I agree and would add to your first point:

    It is important how the apology is delivered. We’ve all had people say to us: “I’m sorry about that”. Which to me and any customer is the backhanded equivalent of the middle finger. It shows no compassion or ownership. In our business, that phrase is outlawed. Instead, we use the phrase “I apologize for…” and then follow it up with “…you’re in luck because I can fix this for you…”

    During the last 5 years of coaching front line employees and recovering from hundreds of poor customer experiences, we’ve found this method to produce great results.

  7. Wonderful advice, and I have just used it in an email!

  8. This article really nails what great customer service is about. Over the past couple of years I have come to think of customer complaints as opportunities to build better relationships and generate goodwill about my products and company.

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