One way to handle ANY customer issue.

June 27, 2011

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

SadThis 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.

MadDid 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.

ScaredStalkers 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?

Follow us on Twitter for more tips and best business practice. Look for our next post on, “How to get more wire out orders without spending any money!

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.

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212 Degrees of customer service begins in the morning and lead by YOU!

June 24, 2011

This morning after a great SAF Growth Solutions conference we were back at the shop bright and early leading off our daily AM meeting.

You should always start your day with a quick chat with sales and design recapping what needs to be accomplished during the day. These meeting need not to be formal and can be kept simple. Your goal should be to engage and interact with your staff. Doing this both you and your staff will be better informed.

Set the tone, answer the phone, don’t feel alone. Everyone is a part of the team and every team needs a coach!

Share your story or even a picture of your AM team meetings, we would love to see your staff!


2011 SAF Growth Solutions Conference Report

June 23, 2011

DALLAS, TX., June 23, 2011 – This morning at the 2011 SAF Growth Solutions Conference Arthur Conforti, of Beneva Solutions, took the main stage to discuss the 212 degrees of Customer Service and the 1% difference.

Numerous flower shop owners in attendance were seen tweeting and posting on Facebook some of the key statements and messages from Arthur’s presentation. One of the most popular messages seemed to be “…  to get results you’ve never gotten you have to do something you’ve never done.”

Many florists talk the talk, but it was clear that the florists in attendance actually walk the walk. Florists were not hesitant to speak up and share their own thoughts and idea. It was amazing to see so many discuss what was presented and how they are now rethinking their daily operations. Amongst the tips most talked about were staff meetings, end of day reporting and using customer service tips to move their business to the next level.

Business is out there but florists are starting to learn that before you can capture customers business you must create an experience. In 2011 business must be earned.


Smartphone Retailing Success Begins Now

June 16, 2011

Can you think of a program to increase sales in the summer that is new and unique? Something that hasn’t been done before? Something that makes your entire local market look at what you are doing.

That’s right, a summer giveaway featuring, the #1 technology buzzword today, iPad 2 and a FREE App.

It would be pretty hard to get excitement over a mobile version of your website, or even a way to get people to look at it. Let’s face it, if someone searches for your site and lands on it, you show the mobile version and only hope they will search for you again. Not a lot of excitement but it is still cool.

Now, try a Summertime iPad2 giveaway for people who download your FREE floralapp™, and you have got something! Try it out for yourself. Ask a customer or 2 if they would download your FREE app for a chance to win an iPad 2. i would be surprised if 2out of 3 customers said yes  and not surprised if all 3 said sure, in a minute. The world is becoming addicted to apps.

Apps are associated with large companies, not aggressive retailers because of the costs to build and operate. It is very unique in the sense that it acts like a website, but runs like an app! This means unique features that ONLY an app can have.

So you get the buzz started and the download begin. With over 100 downloads of our app, I can’t stop promoting it. It is fun, people love it and we are not only seeing download but orders too!

Now when the holidays come around, you are prepared with a CAPTIVE audience to send a “PUSH” notification reminding people of your special offer or that a holiday is approaching. That is when the fruits of your labor will be ready for you to enjoy. The orders will come, the excitement will be there. It is what sets your shop apart from the rest!

So if this isn’t as cutting edge, easy and exciting to start now, please share with me a better idea. Show me something that makes us different. What is out there that hasn’t been done before. If you don’t have an answer then why would you be sitting back and waiting for your competition to do it first. Why must our floral industry always be ahead. When do we get out and do what others have dreamed of and yet to do.

Our industry is changing at record speed, we have opportunities, we just need to use them.

Save the date, next Wednesday and join me in Dallas for the SAF growth solutions to share thoughts on the 212% of customer service. It is the very first step in growing your business.