Customers: The good, the bad…and the difficult.

It’s going to happen. No matter how hard you worked to list an item accurately, ship it with care, and communicate with effectiveness…there will be customers that are not happy.

And no matter how maddening it is, it’s  part of being in a business.  HOW you handle it is most important.

Here are some tips:

1) Don’t take it personally. ALL businesses have customers that are dissatisfied. It’s just the fact of dealing with the public.  Next time you are in a retail store…check out the line of complaints, returns, and product dissatisfaction at the customer service desk.  You are not alone.

2) Good customer service is becoming increasingly rare. This can be a bad and good thing for you.  On the negative side, it can mean people will come out “swinging” because they are used to being treated shabbily when they have a concern. On the good side, you can shock them into a quick resolution when you show even a normal amount of empathy about their concern.

3) The customer is always right…sorta. I know what you’re thinking. What about the person that claimed the article was torn (when it wasn’t) or that you listed something inaccurately (which you didn’t)?  Doesn’t matter.  It’s part of doing business.  You’ll save yourself a lot of grief and a premature high blood pressure just by agreeing.  If EVERY customer was like this…it would be a horrible problem.  But that’s not the case. Again…don’t take it personally.

4) Respond to messages/emails/etc with professionalism. This can be hard when someone may have been insulting or downright mean.  Here’s what I do: I don’t answer right after I read it. I give it a few hours to get my reaction in check. I then decide what “persona” I will write my response in. I usually pretend I am a British lawyer (complete with accent in my head).  I stick to the facts ,use proper grammar, and find out what is going to make them happy.  I’ve also used “sweet ,well-read old lady” persona or ” learned man with a heart of gold” persona.  Either way…I remove “myself” out of it, remain professional, and get on with my day.

5) But “what if?”. If someone is trying to defraud you  or basically steal (i.e. wants refund but won’t return item), you do have some channels to go through on most selling sites. Honestly, try them first and document, document, document.  Sometimes this will work. Some people get nervous about doing something wrong if they find out you haven’t just fallen off the turnip truck.  If it looks like its going to get “weird” with this person….decide how much angst,stress, heartburn this is going to bring to you…and is the ITEM worth it. As a small business owner, I don’t have time to spend days dealing with a situation just to get a small amount of money back.  It costs more in my time and health bills to deal with a difficult customer. I just “cut the bait”. And this is after I have taken all the necessary steps through the selling website.  Chalk it up to the cost of doing business and thank your lucky stars that these people are few and far between.

Again….difficult customers are the small percentage. MOST people want a pleasant transaction. And even if they are dissatisfied, MOST will be courteous.  Usually, they just want to be taken seriously and that someone cares about the transaction on the other end.

What about you? Do you have any good tips on customer service?

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One Response to Customers: The good, the bad…and the difficult.

  1. Alyssa says:

    Wonderful advice and all of it so true! Often times much can be remedied with a matter of fact and kind approach.

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