I’ve seen a real need for a lesson in business manners/business etiquette, especially for those that run a small business or home business. I realize that big businesses can have this problem too, but I think generally they have taken some sort of training on how to deal with customers online and offline, so, even though they still may have their issues, they are not necessarily the same kind of childish things (sorry, cold hard truth here) I’ve seen from some small business owners, especially those just starting out.
I will concede that there may be some issues that arise where you may have no idea how to handle the situation or what the proper etiquette is. That’s totally fine, we’ve all been there. However, there are many times where common sense should be exercised, but the business owner chooses to not use it or allows pride to run the show.
Here is a list of some of the more important points of business etiquette that I’ve put together. Remember, you aren’t going to be able to make every customer happy, but you can at least try. In doing so, you will gain a great reputation.
Put Away the Pride…
When a customer contacts you with a complaint about their purchase proper business manners dictates that you should do everything in your power to appease your customer! It is not worth the bad review that former customer could give you! It is totally worth it to go out of your way to please them and possibly gain a life long fan who will spread the good news about your company to their friends and family.
This is where you need to put your pride aside at times and give the refund, or replace the item, etc…. WITH….wait for it….. a GOOD ATTITUDE. If you need them to pay shipping to send the original item back, then maybe offer free shipping on the replacement item. Of course when dealing with returns, you need to be sure your return policy is very clear. I do not recommend having a no returns policy, unless you are going to offer them some sort of discount on their next purchase if they are unhappy with the original purchase.
A great bible verse that goes along with customer service is, “You reap what you sew.” You will find that you shouldn’t worry about how many people will try to take advantage of you if you go out of your way to please the difficult customer. If you go out of your way, you will find that you will gain many more happy customers that will come back again and again and some of them will happily share your business with others. If you sew patience and kindness, that is what you will reap.
When someone posts a bad review about your business online, you do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get into an argument with them. If you do feel you need to reply to them, keep your feelings out of it. Do not accuse the person. You can try to explain the situation, but do not say it in a way that might make the person feel you are blaming them or down playing their opinion.
I recently had a negative review about my book that I just published in print in December. I had only had 2 customers give me somewhat negative feedback about the ebook format and I have sold over 1000 copies of it, so I decided to publish in print on Amazon. After getting 9 very positive reviews, I ended up with one 2 star where the comments they made seemed a bit unfair. I debated on whether I should reply, and ultimately decided I should go ahead, but I was careful not to accuse or sound defensive, I only stated some facts. Don’t reply right away when your temper is hot! Give it at least a day, maybe more so you can cool off,think properly and apply good business manners.
For example, if you couldn’t get the product shipped on time, be honest about it and let your customer know as soon as possible that it will be delayed, and why. Same with any other situation. Always be honest.
Be a Good Listener…..
Whether it’s a complaint, concern or any other feedback, genuinely listen to your customer and let them know that their feedback is important to you. Respond to emails, even if just to say Thank You. Personal attention and good business manners toward your customers will go a long way!
Hmmm – I wish I could publish this article in every paper and website in the country or world. Just change the subject to match whatever. For example: I recently sold an 8-piece tea set from Belleek Ireland, and in spite of extensive efforts to protect it, it got broken on the way. I didn’t argue with my customer (the major pieces were the ones that got broken of course), but immediately refunded his money. I also let him keep the set in the hopes that he could find the broken pieces and have a complete set eventually. I didn’t want to pay shipping again just to get back a set I couldn’t do much with. He was extremely happy with the resolution, and even though it cost me some to handle it this way, he is a satisfied customer…
Great article, thanks for the info! It is definitely a good reminder, not just for business but every day life. I try to remember this even if I am out to dinner or running errands. Any one I may be rude to or in some other way offend could one day be looking at one of my products. I don’t want that silly mistake I made prevent me from gaining a customer. That is not too say that I can please everyone all the time, or even most time! I am happy with occasionally! Thanks for the reminder.
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