Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Business Chat - Bad Customers

Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it isn’t you, it’s them, they are just plain old miserable people who aren’t going to be happy with anything and now they’re your customer and you have to deal with them. Oh joy, lucky you.

It’s just a part of running a business, take a deep breath, deal with them nicely and they will go away. Here’s a couple of tips from someone who’s had her fair share of "fun" customers over the course of 150 craft shows and 3 years of online selling.

First, always keep your cool. No matter what, never let them push your buttons. Sometimes you have to allow the other person to "let off some steam," acknowledge the person's anger and empathize as appropriate and let the other person know you understand the issue. In all cases, try to establish a solution, a compromise or some other positive outcome for the situation. And remember...stay professional, no matter what. Watch your language. Don't show impatience or place blame on other people or organizations. Try avoiding curt, negative, dismissive, or accusatory language or phrases such as never..., I'm too busy to..., it's not my fault that..., you must have..., etc. Sure, it can be really hard not to get defensive, but it will save you time and energy in the end when you patiently send a professional and friendly response at the outset.

Always stand your ground. If you have made a mistake, acknowledge it and fix it. If the problem is the customer, do not let them talk you in to giving them something for free, or giving a discount or whatever they want. It won’t make them any happier and you will have shown that you can be bullied. Your work has value, even if they refuse to see it.

Always communicate clearly to all customers. Is the problem that the customer doesn’t understand what is going on? Maybe they’ve ordered online and are angry because they feel that their package isn’t there fast enough. Did you let them know as soon as it was shipped? If you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge that it’s your fault and do something about it. Especially in busy times like holiday rushes, things can fall through the cracks. If you’re late shipping an order out, you could apologize and upgrade to express shipping for free.

Make sure you have a refund policy and that the customer knows it. If there’s nothing you can do about an unhappy person, then refund their money and send them on their way. Sometimes you just have to walk away, because nothing is going to make the situation right. If you find yourself taking too much time away from working on your business or handling your other customers, it might be time to cut your losses. While you want to do everything you can to turn them all into smiling satisfied happy shopper, there will be times when all you better off by letting them go. Don’t worry, once they’re gone a flock of lovely people will descend and make it all better. There’s so many more lovelies out there.

1 comment:

kate mckinnon said...

All good advice. Especially the part about knowing when to simply hand the money back and move on.