Monday, September 12, 2011

Take a Deep Breath...

This weekend I received an emergency call from a good friend and fellow Etsy seller. She told me that she had received a message from a very unhappy buyer. The buyer was unhappy with the size of the earrings they had received. My friend makes lovely items with quality materials; I was surprised to hear the news.

The buyer had complained that the size in the pictures did not match the actual item. Oh no…this is a common problem jewelry sellers have when using the Macro camera setting to get sharp close-up details. I told my friend the only solution I know to solve the dilemma; place a common item (like a coin or your hand) in at least one of the photos too to give the buyer a sense of scale. Here is a great example of establishing scale in your photos:

“This will help in the future, but what about my angry customer?” she asked with a sigh. Here’s the advice I gave her……

1. Take a deep breath - it’s not the end of the world. Step away from the computer for 30 minutes and think about how to handle this situation rationally. Try not to answer the complaint emotionally, write your email response cautiously and thoughtfully. If you don’t consider how it will sound to your customer, you could be doing damage control later. Email can be tricky! Tone and inflection are not present in email. Your written response may be misinterpreted as combative or unhelpful if you are not careful with your reply.

2. Realize that you both want the same thing. Buyer and seller want the same end result; a happy, pleasant, and speedy transaction. Usually an unhappy buyer simply wants to feel like you are willing to work with them. So extend the olive branch and let them know that you truly want to help them and are willing to work toward a solution.

3. Put the ball in their court- Ask the customer what they would like for you to do to resolve the situation. Chances are, they have already have an idea of what they think is a fair solution. If there is anything you can do to make sure the customer walks away satisfied, do it. I’m not telling you to give away your shop, just try to come to a fair agreement.

4. Don’t beat your customer over the head with your return policy – Upset customers don’t want to listen to you quoting back your policy to justify why you can’t help them. Let them know your personal guidelines so they know what to expect from here on out. Sure, it’s important to have policies in place, but you can’t view every single situation in black-and-white terms. Be reasonable, and be flexible.

5. Know that you can’t please everyone. You may run into a “difficult to deal with” person. It happens to all of us, there’s no reason to beat yourself up about it. Just do the best you can, keep your cool, think things through, and offer them a fair deal. Hold your head up knowing that you did the best you could to resolve the issue.

I remember reading a phrase that said "Customer service is not a department, it’s an attitude". Apart from these tips above, you need the right attitude and frame of mind for handling tricky situations. Don't run away from them; just try to handle them with care. Here’s hoping that you will never need to use these tips. Cheers!
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  1. Good post! I would always offer to take it back if a customer is not satisfied.

    In certain countries, like the Netherlands as a shopowner you are required to allow for a 7 day grace period. European law requires a 14 day grace period. Is there a USA law handling issues like this?