Mar 28, 2012 And I Forgot.......Oh, Plus Customer Service :) So in case you lovelies haven't noticed, I have not been on the blog much this week. Well, I haven't been on the blog at ALL. And I literally realized TODAY that Easter is like next weekend. I forgot it was so so so early this year! So that explains why I have been swamped; things will die down this next week and I'll be back to daily blog postings, I bet. This post has two parts. The first is pretty much a photo journal of my week in terms of product arrivals (you know, to keep you up to date). The second is a little rant on my thoughts of customer service-the do's and don'ts. Here's the first part, its more fun: I love pastels. Can you tell? I also love neon-though I did NOT love the 80s. I went into H&M the other day and I think I was practically covered in rainbows and neon swirls by the time I left-BARF! (I was glad to see the back end of the 80s, clearly) Silver Russian Veiling-its so awesome! Perfect for July 4th creations :) That'll be here before you know it! Time to grill out :):):) Well basically I could go on and on with photos of new stuff. I was slammed this week trying to fit all the stuff I've bought into my office. Hubby has built shelves THREE times this month. Poor dude, I think he'll still want to marry me in June but I'm not totally certain at this point. So now on to something useful! I had an experience recently with a supplier of my own which left me ranting and raving to Jason about customer service. Please GAWD if any of you ever feel you aren't getting good customer service, just let me know. Jason and I try really really really hard to make everyone happy-we're people pleasers by nature haha (well he isn't, so I respond to convos. But between the two of us we get it done). Here's my short list for customer service. Obviously the rules can vary a little with different businesses etc, but this is what I look for, and what I try to provide. I sincerely think that if you follow these rules you can minimize the unhappy customers. 1) The best start is to provide as much information as possible within your shop or storefront. Clear policies, clear descriptions, follow up emails. However you get info across, make sure your important policies are plastered EVERYWHERE. You know people aren't going to read descriptions, they probably won't read your invoice notes or announcements or any of that. But for the sake of argument, let's pretend some people will read those things. So put information there for them. If you look in our policies you'll see long paragraphs detailing pretty much everything you need to know about our shop. Then you see it again in the shop announcement. Then a shortened version again in the invoice notes. Make it easy for people to find information about your timelines, return/exchange policies, shipping times etc. 2) Be up front and honest. If you aren't sure if you can complete something on time, don't say you can. Also, you KNOW you cant control the post office. So while priority mail does average 2-3 days, it isn't guaranteed. Make sure your customers know it. I always tell people this fact when they say they have to have something by a certain day. That way if it doesn't get there we've already discussed the fact that there was potential for that to happen. No surprises. If there's an issue with an order, address it quickly. I find from time to time I'll miss out deactivating a listing that's sold out. Inevitable somebody buys it the same day and I have to send a conversation about how I actually don't have it. Pretty embarrassing, but it does happen a couple times a year. I find that people are totally fine with it as long as its handled immediately and with care. Most people really are pretty reasonable, give them a little credit. 3) When there's an issue--- Do not get angry. Do not yell. Do not rant and rave to the customer. It doesn't matter what happened. Just fix it. 4) Wait. Do you need more information about number 3? Does that not seem like enough explanation? At the end of the day (regardless of your own policies or PayPal policies or Etsy policies), you are responsible to get that person the items they paid for. Do they say they're missing something? It has a stain? They're otherwise unhappy. Fix it right away. Send a new one, do a partial refund, exchange it for something else. Just make sure to express your regret, give them options, and fix it right away. The more info you can get them the better. Recently I've found the postal service to be really crappy. I've opened more lost package cases than I can count this month. I've replaced probably 5 packages. Its ridiculous. But its important to me to make sure my customers have what they need. I think this "above and beyond" approach to customer service is really important. Its the reason people come back time and again to a shop. Recently I purchased something from a gal on Etsy. I buy from her a lot-she's fabulous. She shipped my items priority mail. A week went by. No package (thanks USPS). I wrote her to check in and she sent me a new package that day. She basically said she'd deal with the USPS on her end to find the package and have it returned or delivered. I agreed to pay for the replacement if the first one showed up. But her willingness to "fix it" immediately at her own cost is why I go back to her time and again. Now I'm not saying to just bite the bullet every time something goes wrong. Of course explore any possible alternatives first. But at the end of the day, unhappy customers shout the loudest. If you don't do everything in your power to provide a good experience then people will hear about it, no matter where the truth lies. 4) Know when to walk away. This is really about when you just can't help someone. I've had times where my initial conversations with a customer really lead me to believe that they are not going to be happy, no matter what I do. That's when I say something like, "I'm getting the feeling that maybe I just don't have the time to put enough attention into your order. However I'm certain there are other shops on Etsy that can provide what you're looking for". Something like that. And I've said it before! It can be a hard conversation but you'll save yourself some heartache in the long run. I was just talking to a friend of mine about these rules recently. She said, well doesn't this open the way to tons of people just complaining to get free stuff?! Here are my thoughts on that. 99% of people won't complain to get free stuff, and 1% will. 99% of people want to just be happy with what they've bought and move on. Those are great customers. 1% are actually trying to get something out of you, if even that high of a percentage. At the end of the day how much is 1% of your business? $4 a month? $20 a month? $100 a month? That's a cost of business. You can write off a loss if you have to replace something for someone. And it goes a loooooooong way to goodwill. I firmly believe most customers want to shop with you time and again! They'd love to find a great shop where they can connect with the owner and buy there regularly. Most people WANT to be happy with their transaction. So don't let the bad apples ruin your faith in the other 99%. Night, y'all!