30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur: Standing your ground with customers – good customer service vs. being a doormat

Dealing with angry customers is never fun. When you open your business, you’ll experience a wide range of people and the complaints they have about your business. There are typically three different scenarios when dealing with customer complaints:

  • You screwed up. Maybe your staff overcharged them, you weren’t open because someone didn’t show up for their shift, or they received a faulty product. Nonetheless, in this scenario it’s clearly your fault. The only option is to sincerely apologize and make it up to your customer. This is the easiest scenario because everyone agrees who screwed up.
  • The client screwed up. They didn’t read your return policy, showed up late after your store closed, or let their coupon expire. Regardless, it’s a situation where it’s obviously the customers fault. You did everything you could to make sure they understood your policies but they either didn’t listen, didn’t read, or didn’t do their own due diligence in some way. When people are complaining to you because of one of these type of issues, they usually know they are in the wrong – but just want to see if you’ll give in. Don’t. I know everyone always thinks the customer is always right – but that simply isn’t true. The customer is not always right. When it’s clear they are wrong, then they are wrong. You should be sympathetic, kind, and understanding but make sure they understand where they are wrong. If you let them break your policy in some way you are opening the door for it to happen again and again.
  • Gray area. Sometimes you’ll have customer issues that come up and it’s not clear whose fault it is. In these cases it’s usually best to appease the customer by giving them what they are asking for – or meeting them in the middle. If you definitely did screw up, you certainly don’t want to insist it’s the clients fault.

The important thing to remember about customer service issues is to be proactive. At The Woof Room, we have had new staff overcharge clients. Since I go over our daily reports with a fine tooth comb, I almost always catch this. I always credit the client and email them right away to know that I caught this and fixed it. Sometimes they didn’t even know they were overcharged. This shows customers that you are not just in it for their money – that you are a business that operates with integrity – and that is important to people because many businesses would just keep their money without saying anything.

Next, 30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur: Planning for ancillary sales

Photo Credit: Rallison

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2 thoughts on “30 days to Becoming an Entrepreneur: Standing your ground with customers – good customer service vs. being a doormat

  1. 3ply.tees says:

    I would definitely agree with your comments about standing firm when customers are clearly in the wrong. For example, we deal with premium 100% cotton tees and even though we had stated our washing instructions attached together with the delivery, a customer kicked up up a huge fuss and demanded a refund after his tee shrunk after he threw it into the dryer at a very high temp.

    We kept our cool and provided photo evidence of all the places he could find our washing instructions and didn’t hear from him for awhile. One month later, he came back to our online store and ordered another 2 more tees from us =)

  2. kristencici says:

    Lol that is too funny! Yea, when customers are wrong they usually know it but want to see if you’ll give in by doing something for them. People are often afraid that if they don’t just give in they’ll lose that customer forever – but that isn’t true. Your situation is a perfect example of this. Thank you for sharing!

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