Dealing with angry, disappointed customers is an unfortunate reality of retail. And if your employees are always running to you to put out these fires, they’re siphoning your attention from other business matters, such as forecasting, buying and marketing.
In this month’s Floral Management, sales and expert Tim Huckabee, president of FloralStrategies, shares his protocol to make dealing with customer complaints more straightforward and less stressful.
“If you start to treat complaints simply as incomplete orders, your collective perspective will change and they’ll become easier for all to handle,” Huckabee said.
Here’s your plan to get employees to systematically work with customers “to get them to that 100 percent satisfaction mark”:
- Let them blow off steam. No matter how minor the mistake, a customer is entitled to be upset. Let him or her explain what happened without interruption. “Don’t cut her off or try to get in a corrective or defensive one-liner,” Huckabee said. “Remember, you’re really just working on an order that wasn’t executed correctly, so be polite, courteous and calm.”
- Investigate. After hearing the complaint, apologize “and then delve into details by finding the order and corroborating all the facts,” Huckabee said. Don’t get caught up in the huffing and puffing; instead, focus on the mission of identifying what went wrong. Did the customer place the order too late for same-day delivery and no one told her? Did the store attempt to deliver on the correct date but the order was refused because the recipient was not there and there were no notes from the delivery person?
- Make it up to them. Do not sheepishly ask, “What would you like me to do about this?” Treat a complaint like an order by offering your professional suggestion — in this case, a resolution. You might say, “I know we didn’t get those birthday roses delivered on time, so I would like to resend them today with an extra dozen included, at no charge of course, along with an apology note from our store, explaining that you had intended to have these delivered to her yesterday.”
For more details on handling complaints, check out “We Have Anger Management Issues.”