Dealing with Unhappy Customers

You know that feeling of dread you get when you mail out an order? That seemingly unfounded sinking feeling that your buyer is going to hate what you made, even though you know it’s amazing? Or maybe you’re afraid the package will get lost in the mail?

Even if you’ve never yet had a disappointed customer, you still need to consider ways of dealing with unhappy customers when the inevitable happens. Yes, when, not if. Eventually it will happen to you, so you need to be prepared.  It is all part of running any sized business and working with customers.

When that feeling of dread boomerangs back with bad news from your buyer, what are you going to do? Panicking will only make the situation worse. You should be prepared. Here are some solid, successful ways to rectify the problem and soothe your customer’s soul.

Determine the exact reason for your customer’s disappointment

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Dealing with unhappy customers can be extremely confusing. They often email or message sellers in a state of high emotion, and they may not always clearly define the problem. If this is the case, your job is to reply politely and concisely, no matter how outraged your buyer seems. 

Apologize for their disappointment, but ask them to specify what the problem is so that you can make amends. When dealing with customer complaints, make sure that you emphasize your desire to make the problem right. Most customers will respond well to polite concern. Sometimes this conversation can be uncomfortable.  Though, in general, you will be surprised at how fast a person relaxes when they understand you want to truly want to solve the problem.

Promptly resolve the problem

Sometimes your package was lost in the mail or damaged. Dealing with customer complaints of this nature will be simple, even if it can be costly. If your product is a regular item in your shop, you can easily make another one. If the item was one-of-a-kind, you may have to offer store credit or a replacement item of equal value. The extra time and expense involved in dealing with unhappy customers may seem futile to you, but remember: both happy and unhappy customers tell all their friends about what they buy.  And, sometimes, unhappy customers like to talk a lot.

Sometimes, though, you'll find yourself dealing with customer complaints that aren't so easy to solve. Perhaps a customer claims the item was damaged before it was posted. Or maybe you suspect that the item was never damaged and she is only trying to get freebie from you. If this is the case, you should request that the customer return the damaged item in order to receive a full refund. Such policies should be laid out in your terms and conditions somewhere on your site or shop anyway.

Repair the relationship

Once you have decided how to solve the problem, let the customer know exactly what you plan to do. Tell them what you have decided and why you came to that conclusion, even if only by referring them to your terms and conditions.   A negative shopping experience can be more memorable than a positive one.  Mitigating this negativity immediately will pay you back ten fold.

Thank the customer for pointing out the problem. This might hurt, especially if you think they are in the wrong, but it’s important because feedback of any kind can help you run a better shop. And customers appreciate sellers who value their opinions.

Give them a reason to come back

Now that you’ve given them what they want, give them something extra. I hear you—running a small business is expensive enough without giving things away. However, consider a small gift or discount as a targeted advertising cost when dealing with customer complaints.

You’ll be amazed how far a small freebie will go toward dealing with unhappy customers. Even an offer of free shipping could be enough to turn your disappointed customer ecstatically happy. And you’ll never know until you try. Sometimes the heart of a loyal customer can be won with impeccable and caring customer service!

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