Dealing with an unhappy customer

You don't need to tell us that this is a sensitive subject. When you're running your own company, you're effectively the face of all its operations. And when something goes wrong (or the customer believes it has), you're the one that has to deal with it. Unfortunately, sometimes they can take "the customer is always right" too far, and you end up faced with an unpleasant, rude, or - in the worst case scenario - downright aggressive customer. It's always going to be a shock, and it's never going to be easy to deal with. We've put together a few guidelines that will hopefully help you keep a level head while you smooth the situation over.
  1. Customer Service is Key
    While it might seem obvious, make sure that you deal with every order and every customer promptly and professionally. If you've done everything right from the get-go, they will have no "ammunition" for any future complaints. In the event of something slipping through the cracks, make sure you contact them immediately to apologise. Offer to include a small gift with their purchase if you can, or perhaps expedited shipping.
  2. Keep Records
    Usually, you have all the info pertaining to an order readily available to you, and the tools at your disposal to let the customer know exactly what's happening and when. Your order notifications, communications between you and the customer, and receipts from postage will provide a good, clear picture of events. The Hello Pretty order management dashboard also allows you to set the order status as you move through the stages of fulfilling it, and include messages to the customer if you wish. Should there be any complaints, you will have a detailed record of what happened when, and what information was passed on to the customer.
  3. Keep it Professional
    People tend to forget that there's a human being on the other end of a phone line, or behind an email. This, coupled with most people's automatic self-righteousness when they feel they've been wronged somehow, can result in communication ranging from condescending to downright nasty. It's tempting to retaliate in kind, but remember that for your sake and your brand's, you should take the high road. If they have a problem, address it directly and politely, and refer them to the facts of the matter, and the previous updates you supplied them with.
  4. Keep Calm
    We know - easier said than done! However, this is possibly the most important point when dealing with an aggressive customer. If you respond to their aggression, the situation is likely to escalate. Even if they threaten you with legal action or reporting you to any number of bodies, do not respond with any threats of your own. This not only justifies their attitude in their minds, it also gives them ammunition against you should a third party need to get involved. If you are in the wrong, apologise and try smooth things over immediately (see Point 1). If not, stick to the facts and try not to let your emotions control your response.
  5. We're Here to Help
    Sometimes, people just won't listen to reason, are pushing their luck because they hope that aggression will get them their way/a freebie, or have just worked themselves up into a state and won't back down. Simply put: People are - well, we probably shouldn't say that word here. We will say, however, that we're on your side. If you feel a customer has crossed the line, or they are refusing to accept the facts, or are trying to threaten you with reporting you, you are welcome to contact us, or to tell them to contact us. We take this sort of thing very seriously, and you guys are important to us.