Regardless of the industry you operate in, there will be times when you don’t “wow” your customers. This is known by most entrepreneurs as the dreaded customer complaint.
Making It Right, No Matter What
Certain companies excel at customer service and deliver happiness (e.g., Zappos) while others clearly don’t make it a priority (I’m sure you can think of a few). At Edible Arrangements we knew from the very beginning that we had to win our customers over with amazing service.
When my brother and I first opened our doors back in 1999, no one knew who we were. Sure! They were intrigued by our fresh fruit arrangements, but they had a lot of questions. Would their arrangement look that good? Would it taste fresh? If they sent their friend a birthday bouquet, would the reaction be ‘wow’ or ‘whoa…’?
So, we decided to give customers peace of mind by telling them that if their gift wasn’t loved, we would make it right—no matter what. This is a bold brand promise. It communicates to the public that you believe in your products and services, but most of all that you want customers to be happy. If this works so well (and it does), why do many small businesses find it so hard to make this a part of their company culture?
Business Is Personal
As I dug further into the subject and spoke with business owners from various retail backgrounds I learned this: Emotions tend to run high when it comes to business, especially when you have immense pride in what you have created. When there’s a complaint about your products or services, it’s easy to take it personally. And once it’s become personal, “rational and objective” goes out the window.
Taking Customer Complaints in Stride
My advice for entrepreneurs is to take complaints professionally, not personally. What does that mean? A complaint is a customer’s perception of what happened. What you think really doesn’t matter.
“So, don’t get emotional. Just stop, listen and ask what you can do to make it right. You should talk very little and let your customer talk a lot.”
So, don’t get emotional. Just stop, listen and ask what you can do to make it right. You should talk very little and let your customer talk a lot. Use it as an opportunity for a “free” lesson on how a customer experiences your brand. I have found that when given the opportunity to speak freely, customers are fair and logical. When you let them become part of the solution they can develop a deeper relationship with your brand.
At the end of the day, handling customer complaints should not be a large part of your company’s dialing activities. If they are, there’s a bigger problem you need to identify and solve.
Instead of fighting negative reviews and customer complaints, use it as an opportunity to learn and make a memorable impact on your customer’s day.
Not convinced? Try it for thirty days and I think you’ll become a believer.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Kamran Farid is the co-founder and former Chief Operating Officer of Edible Arrangements® International, the creators of fresh fruit bouquets and fruit hand dipped in gourmet chocolate. Over fifteen years he was instrumental in growing the brand from one store in East Haven, Connecticut to over 1,300 stores in 14 countries and counting. Farid has a depth of expertise in building a brand from infancy into a global powerhouse. His newest venture, Kamran Capital Group, aims to help small businesses grow smarter. Connect with @kamranf on Twitter.