Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#BizGold Vol. 2 - What To Do For the Unhappy Customer

One of the most basic aspects of entrepreneurship is of course dealing with customers. It's a privilege, but it can also be rough. Hopefully, every client you interact with will love the product and service you provide, but inevitably, a product will arrive late, will break, or (heaven forbid) will not live up to the customers' expectations. I've learned it happens to everyone and that an unhappy email usually shows up in your inbox when it does. That's a hard thing, but what's sometimes worse is when you get no email at all.

When I was just beginning my jewelry business, I had a long conversation with a woman who was an experienced jewelry designer and business owner. One of the best pieces of advice she gave me was to go above and beyond when fixing a problem for your customer. If something breaks, replace it for free. Pay for shipping both ways. Throw an extra gift in the box. Do more than they expect you to. I have since had occasion to use that advice (thankfully, only twice), but I would add something else to it:

Go to the unhappy customer before they come to you.

A couple of months ago, one unhappy customer bypassed my inbox and went straight for the review page... I received a notice that someone had left a review on my shop, and upon opening it, found 3 out of 5 stars winking at me (they were smug, those stars). The necklace the customer received was adorable, she said, but it broke after wearing it for a brief amount of time. 3 out of 5 stars changed my shop review as a whole from 5 stars to 4... and I began to panic. 

In a perfect world every customer would go to you first when they have a problem, instead of writing a bad review, but often that just doesn't happen. In that case, you fly to the customer. I quickly responded to the review and told her that I would send her a replacement the next day for free. She immediately changed her review to 5 stars, and I started breathing again. When I mailed the replacement piece to her, I stuck a discount code in the box and a note reminding her that I was always available to fix issues for my clients.

I walked away from that little experience knowing that if I had not been so quick to respond, the customer would probably have forgotten to change her poor rating (disaster). (Being extra quick is the best way to guarantee the customer stays your customer.) But I also learned that going above and beyond to serve the customer means going to them. You can't guarantee that once you put your product into someone's hands, they'll follow up when something goes wrong. Whether it's with a comment card in the actual box, an email asking them how they liked your product, or a prepaid means of returning your item, communicating with them first makes them feel like they're free to communicate with you.  People need to know that there's a human on the other end of the transaction, not just some company that doesn't care about them.

What are some of your customer experiences and have you taken measures to anticipate disaster? :)

If any of you bloggers have a business-related post that you would like to share, feel free to link up by following the instructions below. #BizGold takes place on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month. Next up is April 14th!


  1. This is such an eye-opening post! I am starting my own floral design business, and I would hope and PRAY they would come to me before they went and left a bad review. I've always contacted businesses to let them know how I feel before I give anyone less than 5 stars. This has only happened once or twice, and both times they were fixed and I was able to give a full amount of stars. I can totally imagine how it would give you a mini anxiety attach when you first see the review! Yikes! I'm so glad she decided to go back and change it.

  2. Thanks, Jenna! My heart started racing, that's for sure! I really do think it would be best to find some way to get to the customer before they head for the review page. Can't wait to see more about your business! :)


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