Dealing with angry, disappointed customers is an unfortunate reality of retail — especially in the aftermath of a busy holiday. But it doesn’t have to be your undoing.
In the April/May cover story of Floral Management, successful retailers share their complaint protocol to protect their reputation and retain customers.
Here are some of their tips:
- Offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee on every delivery.
At Starbright Floral Design in New York City, the disgruntled customer gets to define “satisfaction.” It could mean a new arrangement, a refund or both. Starbright president Nic Faitos explained his philosophy at an industry conference last summer, saying that the cost of a refund or replacement is far less than losing a customer or risking an angry one- or two-star review for future flower buyers to read.
One of the florists in the audience, Martha Aaron, AIFD, took Faitos’s advice to heart and implemented the “whatever it takes” policy at Mountain High Flowers in Sedona, Arizona. “It takes people by surprise,” she said. “People are prepared to argue. Instead, they hear that apology and our guarantee. Suddenly, they’re happy.”
- Empower employees to make things right.
Well-intentioned staff can thwart your best efforts. “When a complaint comes in, some employees think they’re actually protecting the company by disagreeing with the customer or not offering a refund or replacement,” said Justin Sheffield, of Ashland Addison Florist Co. in Chicago. The reality? It only further infuriates the customer. “That’s why owners need to explain the big picture—that we take care of customer complaints in this way because we want those customers to come back.”
- Write a heartfelt note. Following up on Valentine’s Day complaints, Anthony Baradhi, of Flower Station in Somerset, New Jersey, sent a personal letter to customers for missed or delayed letters. For each instance, he apologized, took responsibility for the mistake, refunded their money and sent a gift card for a future purchase. “I think the ‘I’m sorry’ part may have been the most important part of each letter,” he said. “People don’t want to hear excuses. It’s a turn off.”
For more tips on simple ways to earn customers’ affection, read “You’re Gonna Love Me.” FMAprilMay18 Feature 1