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How to turn an unhappy customer into your biggest fan

September 10, 2021

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Recently I purchased some candles from an online business across the country. The candles were absolutely gorgeous, their website and social media presence was beautiful (and active) and so I proceeded to buy gifts for friend’s birthdays coming up, plus a sneaky candle for myself of course.

A month had passed and I wondered where the candles might be, I hadn’t heard from Australia Post nor had I heard from the company but I figured the postal service was having a hard time due to the pandemic. I left it another month… my friends birthdays had passed and I was growing more concerned my package had been lost in transition, I sent an email to the company asking for an update on my delivery. No response. As they were very active on Instagram, I sent a direct message. No response. There was no phone number available so messages were my only options.

A few days later, I sent another email and sent another message to follow up. No response. I was really starting to get disgruntled. A few days later I went through the same avenue – message sent, email sent. No response. No other way of contacting them and I had spent hundreds of dollars on fancy candles. Unfortunately, I felt I had no other option than to request a refund through the paypal system – my candles weren’t coming and the company wasn’t responding to me (I could see they were reading my messages on Instagram).

Within a few days of them getting the message from paypal saying I was requesting a refund, they finally got in contact saying they had sent the order (I had no confirmation, nor had I received the order). I will spare you details of the messages we sent back and forth for me to actually get confirmation of a resolution but in the end (after another two weeks) they agreed to send me the order again. I waited for another month before I received that order.

Here’s some advice for business owners from my negative experience as a customer (and from my experience over the years in small business customer service) …

Treat customer complaints with the utmost importance:

It is really easy to make a customer feel heard and seen with their problem and turn them into a happy customer who will buy from you again. It is just as easy to upset them further by ignoring them or playing down their issue and have them leave a negative review (or worse… never buy from you again and let all their friends know how terrible your customer service is). Just as you would treat a fresh new sale or enquiry, customer complaints need to be dealt with in the same way – they are gold – and you just may have a customer for life.

A business is only as good as its’ complaints department – so be exceptional:

I am not one of those customers who will complain about every little thing (I have had those customers and they are HARD work). I give businesses the benefit of the doubt as I know everyone is doing their best. I have had to make returns for various reasons, have been unhappy with a service and have had deliveries go missing in the mail. With those businesses, I found they took it in their stride, made immediate changes and/or processed the refund or discount in a matter of days. I still buy from, recommend and respect those businesses today.

Just be honest and offer a solution, PRONTO!

I made the mistake of buying from this candle business again thinking I’d give them a second chance. I know, right?! Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me! The same thing happened again… the order took 2 months to arrive (yay, it arrived) but the main candle which cost around $100 and I had bought for a very special occasion was completely smashed and unusable as it was packed terribly (not the delivery driver’s fault at all).

After several weeks of contacting them again with no response, I finally heard back after I changed my tone. The response was “I’ve had stuff happening in my family, I’ll have it sorted today.”. I waited a week, messaged again and got the response “I’ve been really busy, I’ll check emails and have it organised today.” Another week passed, I messaged again, and the response was “I can’t even see your messages or emails so not sure what this is in relation to but I’ll have it sorted today”. Seriously, whaaat??!

Four months after my second (regretful) purchase, I am still waiting on a resolution but the lies/excuses and dragging the issue out have left me as one unhappy customer who will find another small business to buy small candles from.

Let me know if you’ve ever had a bad customer service experience? If so, what did that company do to turn you into a happy customer again?

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