Hi everyone! My name is Megan Reynolds and I’m the designer/owner behind Flawed Perfection Jewelry. Aimee asked if I could give some advice on dealing with customers, the good ones AND the bad ones. Between my own business, business classes, and my office job, I’ve had a variety of customer experiences. So, I’ve compiled some tips to deal with both types of customers.
1. Respond to questions as soon as possible.
If a customer is asking questions before a purchase, you want to provide an answer before they have a chance to find an alternative product. In order for your lovely customer to be satisfied and hopefully in love with her purchase, you should calm concerns quickly. Send a reply tweet, Facebook comment, short e-mail back etc. When a sweet customer asks about chain lengths, materials used, or ship time, I send an answer as soon as I can so she can get on with her purchase.
2. Offer to replace an item.
When unforeseen circumstances cause an item to be lost or damaged, replace an item (if possible). Depending on the materials used, nature of the design process, time and money involved etc., you have to decide if this is feasible. However, when a sweet customer knows you went the extra mile to make her order right, she is more likely to shop again and say great things about your company to others. I had a customer order a ring in the wrong size due to a miscalculation. I offered to switch out the band for free if she sent the ring back. Unfortunately, the ring was stolen out of the package during its travel back to me. She said she was okay without the ring, but I felt awful considering she hadn’t been to wear it yet. Without her asking me to, I sent off a new ring, in the larger size. She was so happy and grateful and tells everyone where she got the ring from!
3. Say “thank you.”
Always. At the end of all your e-mails with customers, when they tweet or Instagram about your product, when someone is referred to you by another customer etc. When possible, try to include a thank you note; sometimes, I send them to extra sweet customers just for fun. Remember, without your customers, you wouldn’t have a business at all!
4. Create a “Customer Love” page.
Dedicate a post on your blog or a page on your website to sharing real customers showing off or modeling your product. If this isn’t ideal for your product, definitely include a simple testimonial page at least. A “Customer Love” page allows customers to express why they love your products. Lovely customers appreciate being featured and giving a testimonial or taking a picture reminds them why they purchased from you in the first place. Reward them with a discount code, link love, or some sort of free gift to make participation even sweeter for the customers. My “Customer Love” page can be seen here. I search out testimonials or photos every few months (I’m about to really start asking for pictures!) and provide a special discount code for participating.
5. Reward your most loyal customers.
The 80/20 principle, a business school staple lesson, is applicable to most businesses, even handmade businesses. For the majority of businesses, 20% of your customers make up 80% of your business. That juicy 20% are your most loyal customers. If particular customers send a lot of business your way or repeatedly order from you, send a thank you note, a free gift, or a special discount code. Let them know that you really appreciate their repeated business. It’s cheaper to work to keep a current customer than get a new customer. Of course, still reach out to new customers, but just remember that your best customers are bringing your more sales and more money. Keep those loveliest customers happy!
1. Be kind.
This simple reminder is my best tip for these type of customers. “Kill ‘em with kindness” is true when dealing with online customers especially. To maintain a positive image of your business, be sweet, even when it’s hard. To minimize the negative words that a dissatisfied customer may share online or in person, be as kind as you can be when talking with the customer. I have to remember this every time I get a dissatisfied e-mail. Even though these e-mails are infrequent, I remember to step back, breathe, and kindly address the customer’s issue.
2. When someone publicly voices a general question or concern, respond publicly.
Sometimes, not-to-lovely customers or potential customers may ask a general question about your business on a public stage like Twitter or Facebook. When someone questions your business, use social media to your advantage to explain yourself. If someone asks about a long shipping time on your Facebook page, leave a comment on the post so everyone understands why. I’ve had questions about my shipping prices on Twitter (I charge for Priority shipping by default). I publicly replied with a simple explanation and a solution. (Customers are welcome to e-mail before ordering for a shipping downgrade.)
3. When someone publicly voices a complaint or question specific to their order, take it private.
Sometimes, a not-so-lovely customer publicly asks about a non-public topic. Give your e-mail address to the customer or private message the person and discuss the issue away from where everyone can see. These situations may involved sensitive info or even become heated and it’s best to take them away from (public) social media. You don’t want those posts to be the first thing people see when they come to your public page.
4. Offer a relevant solution.
Whenever a not-so-lovely customer contacts you about a problem with their order, try to find a helpful solution. Customers really want to know that you listened to their concerns and are doing something about it. In my business writing class, we learned extensively how to write these kind of responses. Apologize for the situation and offer something that will as effectively as possible resolve the issue. When a very unhappy customer’s chain broke right after it arrived, I offered to send a new chain. A refund for the price of the chain would have also been acceptable. If I had offered to a discount code, that wouldn’t have made this customer happy at all. Relevant solutions = the most satisfaction.
5. Be respectful.
When a not-so-lovely customer is trying to abuse your policies or force you into a solution that is uncomfortable, respectfully explain the policy. Then, give a final solution. As tempting as it is to be rude to that awful customer, remember that your business’ representation is on the line. You are the one who has to be the bigger person and maintain composure. Whenever a dissatisfied customer e-mails me, I always remember that she is a paying customer. She does deserve respect because she did choose to pay for my product (at least most of the time). Remember that their will be those few and far between customers that you will never be able to satisfy.
Thanks for having me Aimee and crew! If any of you have specific questions for me, I’m happy to help. Feel free to e-mail me.
You can also find me at shop is here and I blog here. When I’m not making jewelry (or on Twitter all the time), I’m studying for my degree in Management/Entrepreneurship or working in the office at a local retreat center.