How to Handle a Customer’s Issue With Care

  • 10 March 2014
  • 5 min read
How to Handle a Customer’s Issue With Care

Your shop is blowing up! Orders are rolling in, you're on top of your game, and business couldn’t be sweeter.

But what happens when:

  • An order you're sure you've already shipped doesn't make it to your customer, and they're panicking.

  • That classic tee that everyone seems to love doesn’t fit someone quite right, and that someone wants a refund ASAP.

  • Angry comments show up on your Facebook page, and all you want to do is delete them forever.

Sometimes, the stars don’t quite align in your favor. Not to worry! This sort of thing happens to the best of all brands. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, or that you’re doing something wrong. Take this chance to see your business from your customer's eyes, and improve the system you have in place.


Stay in touch

Send a customer an email after each order is placed to confirm that you received the order. If you have a specific shipping timeline, be sure to include that in the email so customers know up front approximately when their package will ship.


Set store policies

Take some time to really think about how your business wants to handle problem cases.

  • Do you accept returns if a customer just doesn't like a product?

  • Do you accept returns if a product doesn't fit?

  • Do you accept returns if a product was damaged in shipping?

  • Do you accept returns if a product is defective?

  • Do you pay for return shipping or does the customer?

  • Is there a time frame for accepting returns?

  • What do you do if a product doesn't arrive at the destination?

  • Do you use tracking numbers when you ship?

  • Do you ship every day, or just once or twice per week?

  • Do you use UPS all the time, or whatever is cheapest?

  • Do you pay for insurance on products you ship?

  • Will you issue refunds? If so, which scenarios will call for refunds?

These are just some of the questions you'll want to answer about your store's policies. Once you have a clear idea of your answers - get these in a public space so your customers know up front what to expect in these situations. You can do this using a custom page on your site for Policies or FAQ.

Including detailed descriptions of your products, clear photos, and size charts/measurements will also help prevent some of these issues altogether. Make sure your customers know exactly what they're getting.


Open communication is key

If a customer has a question, complaint, or problem - respond, and be quick, be courteous, be honest. Always put yourself in your customer's shoes. Treat them how you'd like to be treated in that circumstance.

Get in on the conversation

Don't let Tweets/Facebook/Instagram posts slide - if you have a presence on a social network, make sure to keep those alerts turned on and don't neglect 'em. Communicate clearly and honestly to stop minor issues from becoming negative feedback in a public space.

Unless a comment thread is offensive/threatening/abusive, don't delete it or block users from your profile. This is your chance to get in on the dialogue, change the customer's attitude and make it right. Encourage them to email you privately to resolve the problem.

Keep your head up

It's easy to get upset or overwhelmed by just one complaint, let alone multiple complaints, but remember: not responding to the issue at all sends up major red flags to customers, and could hurt future business. Don't let complaints fester - be honest and present.

Listen and adjust

Carefully consider all the things that your customers and community are saying about you, and then adjust your policies accordingly. If business is booming and orders are taking too long to get to customers, consider shipping products daily - or using Priority Mail with shipment tracking. If products look differently in person than in your photos, consider hiring a photographer to take your product photos.

10 March 2014

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