Thursday's #HandmadeChat covered the topic of dealing with difficult customers. This is an important topic because, as small business owners, we deal with people all the time — and where there are people, there are challenges. Whether an issue can be traced to you, your customer, or some act of providence, how you handle it will define you and your business over time.
Our chat was sponsored by Bramble Berry soap making supplies, and led by Mary Humphrey — be sure to read an announcement at the end of this post about Mary and her business. If you are interested in gaining some super customer service tips and perspective, and in seeing how your fellow business owners handle difficult customers, you'll enjoy this post. Here are a few highlights:
Q1: HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT WHEN A CUSTOMER COMPLAINS ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE?
@penandinkspot: Listen to your customer! Communicate ASAP that you are sorry for their discomfort and are looking into the situation. Analyze the situation. Keep your cool. Ask yourself questions – Did you falter in customer service? Did the customer receive the product that they paid for (as described)? Do you need to change your policy or procedure? Determine what (if anything) you can do to remedy the customer’s unhappiness. Be honest. Customers can sniff out dishonesty and excuses! Lastly, apologize where needed and offer to correct the situation.
Q2: DO YOU LIVE BY THE MANTRA THAT “THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT?”
@penandinkspot: No, some customers are simply hard or impossible to please.
@donnaderosa: They are not always right. But they always think they are right, so I am always polite.
bubsandscrubs: I'm all about putting the customer experience first, but not every customer is right. In fact, I've fired a few.
indiebusiness:I don't live by, “The customer is always right.” I live by, “The customer always deserves to be heard and treated fairly.”
Q5: HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT WHEN CUSTOMERS TRY TO GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING, GENERALLY?
@penandinkspot: Some customers do not understand the value of our time, nor our products. They take advantage.
@natgoodsoaps: I stopped participating in fundraisers unless I believe in the cause. I never made any sales out of products I donated.
@astridanaturals: Sorry to say… I completely ignore these requests.
@livelovedew: This is my business, it's how I make a living. If you sign up for our newsletter we'll send you our specials.
There's a lot more to this transcript, including how to handle refund requests when a customer changes his or her mind (as opposed to when the product is defective) and how to handle negative comments made in social media.
Download the entire #HandmadeChat transcript here. In addition to Mary, several other people chimed in with their tips. You'll find our discussion of unplanned questions and answers very informative too.
Speaking of Mary, join me in congratulating her on the closing of Annie's Goat Hill Soaps, and the opening a new business called Pen And Inkspot, from which she Tweeted for this chat. Let's wish Mary all the best in her new and exciting endeavors!
The Next #HandmadeChat …
August 16, 8pm ET: La Shonda Tyree will facilitate: How To Prepare For The Holiday Season. See you there!