Imagine if there was one word that could help you handle any customer issue, complaint or compliment… Empathy!
In today’s challenging retail markets, customers expect more than ever before. They know more, they have more choices and they expect better experiences than they may have once tolerated in the past. I have often observed that I have made more customers from complaints than I have from compliments.
Four Emotions of a Customer
Sad – This is usually the case when it is too late. Possibly a missed funeral time? In many cases, recognition needs to be accomplished more than funds refunded. Even if it is out of town, by taking responsibility, you insure the customer don’t need to deal with 3rd parties. Keep the customer experience with you, good or bad.
Mad – Did your delivery cause embarrassment of any kind? Was it late? Does a refund make it better? Focus on what happened and sometimes you may ask the customer what they feel; is the best resolution. After all it is the customer’s confidence about your shop you need to consider.
Disappointed – This is the case when usually the flowers may not have been fresh or did not last as long as expected. Nothing is worse than a customer feeling your flowers don’t last. You need to be creative and come up with a way to correct this and insure they have long lasting flowers to insure them you have a quality product.
Scared – Stalkers or deceptive people who have spouses and may be sending flowers to someone else. Customers can put us in tough situations when they ask to hold back sender info. This is sensitive and should be handled by mgmnt.
In any case, these are all experiences that can not be understood until the customer has explained it in full. Please take the time to listen with the idea of making it right and a YES WE CAN attitude. If the customer takes the time to voice an opinion, we should take the time to listen.
Two Unforgettable Experiences: Excellent and Horrible
Neither is ever forgotten. There is now ammunition out there, like social networking, putting the advantage of revenge in the hands of your customers. So how do we use this to our advantage?
Train, Train, Train… Don’t assume that your staff knows what to do, or how to always get the best results. I am a big supporter of surveys. This way, I give my customer the chance to contact me first if they are any less than extremely happy with their experience in our shop.
Back to empathy…. Just listen. In many cases, the customer wants to be acknowledged more than refunded. Our service is one that has its value in many cases for timly delivery and a card message. The flowers sometimes are secondary. We can’t be late and we need to get the order right the first time. When it doesn’t work out, just listen! A trained associate in your shop will be able to figure out what it is going to take to satisfy this issue if they approach the customer with patience and empathy.
The answer is simple. After all, do we really want to win the battle at the risk of losing the war?
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P.S. – Join me at the Texas State Floral Association this July 16th, as I will be discussing marketing strategies and the Lifetime Value of a customer.