Tips & Talk 22 – Your Customer is Mad – Now What?

Woman on phone looking concernedIt’s inevitable. If you run a business, no matter how buttoned up your services are, you’ll encounter an angry customer. How you handle it is what will determine the future of your relationship.

Here is what to do when your customer is made and the process to follow to not only turn the situation around, but make it play in your favor. What happens in the end? A happy customer!

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Transcript
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Hi there.

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And thanks for joining me for tips and talk day.

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These are bite-sized topics that I pull from community questions and

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things that I'm observing in the world of handmade small business.

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If you'd like to submit a topic,

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DME, over on Instagram at gift biz,

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unwrapped the topic for today,

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how do you handle a customer?

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Who's frustrated with you angry,

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mad. How do you manage this?

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I've been in business now for quite a few years,

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corporate three of my own businesses.

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And there's one thing that I have come to know.

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There is no way that you can be a hundred percent

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perfect all the time things are going to happen.

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Some of them are in your control.

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Some of them aren't.

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What I've learned is when you have pre thought and created

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a plan of how you're going to manage through certain issues

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that could arise,

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it ends up being a much better experience,

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both for you and your customer for you,

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because you're not caught completely off guard.

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You already know what your next steps are going to be

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and for your customer,

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because they feel like based on the fact that you're guiding

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them through some sort of process that you're in control,

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you're going to take care of the situation and it brings

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their anxiety level way down.

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Let's talk now about what could be your plan.

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We're starting at the beginning.

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A customer has reached out and is angry for some reason.

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The very first thing is to take a deep breath so

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that you can stay in control.

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It's not a life or death situation.

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You're going to be able to work through this.

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So take a deep breath.

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The second thing is listen to what the customer is saying,

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and then try to determine which category it falls in.

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There's two different categories.

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One is I don't have a better term for it,

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but it's a new year rational frustration.

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And of course,

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then that means the other one is a rational frustration.

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And you handle both of these differently.

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If the problem is irrational,

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let me give you an example of something that that would

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be, they emailed you and within five minutes you haven't responded

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yet. Okay?

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It's a little bit of an irrational expectation that you are

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just available to respond to any email within five minutes,

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or let's say they were expecting a delivery on a certain

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date. You got the delivery out in time,

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but ups,

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postal service.

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However you're managing the delivery.

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Didn't get it to your customer in time.

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You don't have control over that.

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So for them to be angry at you is irrational.

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The way you manage through irrational issues is to listen.

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They're emotional.

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You care about the fact that they're in this emotional spot

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because they've interacted with your business and whether you're responsible for

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it or not,

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and it's rational or not.

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You want to try and help them work through it.

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And the way you do it is to listen.

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Hear what they're saying?

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Not to get defensive.

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Well, then it wasn't our fault.

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The postal service didn't deliver it on time,

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right? Or what do you expect?

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I can't open the emails.

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Then five minutes.

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I have other things to do as well.

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Or maybe I had to go to the bathroom.

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You know that one,

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just put that customer on the defensive and not allow for

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a good conversation.

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So the thing is just to listen to what they have

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to say,

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acknowledge their frustration.

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Not that you even agree with it necessarily,

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but you can acknowledge their frustration.

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Gosh, I certainly understand why you needed that package and why

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you're so frustrated that the postal service didn't send it in

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the timing that they normally do.

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So you are acknowledging and you're listening to them.

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And that most of the time with someone who is in

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that emotional state will help them to calm down.

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And sometimes after they calm down,

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they'll jump over into a rational position.

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And sometimes they won't,

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but by you acknowledging,

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showing and recognizing that you understand what they're going through and

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why they're frustrated is the best way to manage through these

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irrational conversations.

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And from there,

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you just have to intuitively guide the conversation forward,

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whatever you do,

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don't tell,

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take responsibility for something that's not your responsibility for deliveries,

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not getting there on time.

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If it didn't have to do with you,

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you, the only thing that you can handle and manage with

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deliveries is when you get it into the system,

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you can't be the ups driver or be at a sectional

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center in a post office and manage all that work through

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when you take responsibilities for situations like that,

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I'll stick with that email example.

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And then also the shipping example,

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you're setting yourself up for failure because you're setting yourself up

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to be responsible for things that you have no control over.

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And so that just leads you deeper into trouble the next

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time, if it happens again.

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So make sure that's a caution here.

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Sure. Not to take responsibility for things that are out of

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your control.

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You can still listen.

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You can still be sympathetic and understanding and recognize the frustration

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on behalf of your customer.

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But that's pretty much all you can do at that point.

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And what I found is many times they needed somebody to

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listen and,

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and the case will be closed and they will move on

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and they'll be appreciative that you were there to listen to

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them. Okay?

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So that's the irrational side of a customer complaint.

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Now let's get to a rational side.

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The rational side is they have a legitimate issue with you.

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You sent them the product.

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So that's a problem.

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They need a return refund exchange,

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whatever it is,

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their package came and the parts were broken.

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That's another legitimate complaint or issue when these issues are rational.

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It's now up to you as a business owner to work

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through the situation.

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And the best thing to do is to have a specific

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step-by-step action plan of what you'll do.

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So think this through about how you'll manage this before it

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actually happens.

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You know how nowadays I'll use Amazon as an example,

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when you have a return,

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you go online to initiate the return transaction,

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and then it asks you a series of questions.

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There's a process that you work through,

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what was wrong with the product,

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the reason for the return.

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And then are you going to drop it off somewhere?

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Are you going to mail it?

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They give you instructions accordingly.

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And then you get your confirmation and directions for return.

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It's a whole system.

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I'd suggest you create a process similar to this.

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That's very structured and is the same each and every time

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also, what are your different options?

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If something is broken or something that they got,

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wasn't exactly what they ordered.

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It was the wrong color,

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or, you know,

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whatever different from what the order was.

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Okay. Not that now they've changed their mind.

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They want the red one instead of the pink one.

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That's a different story.

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That would be an exchange,

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right? But so think through these different scenarios and how you

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would manage it.

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So you already have your system figured out.

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And the reason you wanted to do this is you stay

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in control and can guide your customer through how you'll fix

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the situation together.

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And it's different based on if something arrived broken,

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because it wasn't packaged properly.

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Well, that's on you.

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You need to send out another one for them.

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Do you want them to return the broken item?

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Do you want them to just keep it and toss it?

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You know,

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what's your system,

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what's your plan.

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It might be different for different businesses,

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so, and different types of products that you have.

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So think through that,

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if it's an exchange,

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do they pay the shipping of the other one back to

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you? Cause that's still a perfectly good product that you can

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sell. All of these things you look at and figure out

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what is the right resolution when it's a rational,

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legitimate complaint.

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And then you fix it based on whatever your system and

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you move on.

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Now, heavy said that maybe you're fortunate at this point,

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not to have ever encountered this,

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but I've encountered this several times where you have a customer.

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What they are asking for and requesting is completely out of

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line either.

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It's totally off course from what you actually offer.

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So they're virtually asking you to create a product that you

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don't even offer or the product that you offer.

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Doesn't do what they want it to do.

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Let me give you a couple examples.

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So here I own another company called the ribbon print company.

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You might know that depending on whether you've been with me

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for a while or not.

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And from time to time,

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we'll have people buy a printer and then be angry that

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it can't do what they want it to do.

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For example,

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I had one person who wanted to Mount the printers on

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the ceiling of their facility because they had no more space

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and run the ribbon and the printers and the accessories through

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that way,

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like the computer would be on a desk and the printer

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would be bolted to the ceiling.

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Like I'm not even kidding.

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That was what someone wanted to do.

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We had to explain to them that that wasn't possible.

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You cannot work the printer that way you can't load the

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materials that way.

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It's just not going to work.

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Obviously we took the return.

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Thank God they hadn't started drilling into the printers or something,

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but that's an example of where it's not a fit for

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what your customer wants versus what your can do.

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The ribbon print company.

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Again, we had a customer who makes clothing labels,

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and she's still a customer of ours now,

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by the way.

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But she was testing out the ink that we use for

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washable clothing labels,

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but she was washing it in that soft soap.

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And the soft soap also has lotion in there.

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The combination of that soap and the lotion takes the print

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off the ribbon.

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Now our system has been tested for going through a laundry

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machine with laundry detergent,

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but it doesn't work with that.

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Hand-washing soft soap.

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So again,

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an example of not a right fit and stent that you're

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being honest and telling them what is possible and what isn't

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possible. And not trying to create things just to get a

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sale is important,

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right? For your credibility and alleviate a lot of time and

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energy later,

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making sure that they're getting what they need or not purchasing

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at all.

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If it's not the right thing fit,

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there were also some times where people will blame you.

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You for something,

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no matter what,

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it's not your responsibility.

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It's not,

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your control had nothing to do with you.

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And I have had,

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I can only think of one customer.

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Who's been like that.

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Being very rude to my staff,

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to the point of swear words,

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being demeaning,

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insulting. I just said,

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you know what?

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This is not a good fit.

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We're not going to be able to work together.

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And we had to take a pass,

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let them go.

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They were just not nice,

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not nice people.

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You don't want to work with not nice people.

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So you have to acknowledge that there will be times when

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you'll encounter things like this.

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And as the owner and leader,

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you need to decide how much we'll put up with and

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take actions accordingly.

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And all of this just goes along with what is your

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process? What is your step-by-step reasoning on how you manage through

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these things and thinking through it beforehand versus after is always

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the key.

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The worst thing that you can possibly do is ignore them.

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If you don't return an email when someone's really mad or

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you don't reply on social media,

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oh, I'll get to that in a minute.

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How you manage issues like this on social media,

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but just ignoring and pretending that they don't exist.

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What is that going to do?

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What does it do to you?

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If you were on the other side,

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it's going to make you angrier and angrier and angrier.

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So that is the one thing that you do not ever

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do. Now.

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I hadn't thought of talking about this,

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but since it's just come up in my mind,

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I think I will.

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Social media.

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If someone bashes you on social media here is what you

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do to handle that whatever the post is,

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you respond to them.

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One time you acknowledge that they're frustrated.

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If it was something that you did wrong,

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say my gosh,

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we're sorry.

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We'd like to correct this DM me.

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Or you say,

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I'll message you so that we can get this resolved.

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So one way or another,

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you take the conversation offline and then resolve it.

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Now, some people just like to cause trouble.

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You reply to a post.

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Let me message you.

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And we'll talk offline and figure out how to manage through

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the situation.

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But instead they want to put this whole drama on social

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media. Don't do it.

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You respond one time saying that you're interested in working with

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them offline,

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everyone else in the world.

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Doesn't have to be part of that personal conversation about how

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you're rectifying the situation.

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And if they just want to keep talking and talking and

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talking and talking and being mad or whatever they're doing,

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or let them do it.

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There are some times in this,

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you just need to use your best judgment,

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where it does make sense to come back and say so

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glad you brought this to our attention.

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I'm glad we were able to solve this to your satisfaction.

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You know,

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that may be another thing that you would put online,

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but don't whatever you do start engaging with this back and

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forth nitpicking with someone on social,

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you will not win in that case.

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And honestly,

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I think you'll feel the same way when you see people

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doing that to another business on social,

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you know,

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that this person is just out to be a pain.

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They have a bone to pick.

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Maybe it doesn't even have to do with you.

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And they've just decided you're going to be their outlet.

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All right?

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So this is the way we work through any issues that

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we have with customers.

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Take a deep breath so that you stay in control,

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determine whether this is a rational,

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true issue,

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or they're just being emotional.

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And if they're being emotional,

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be there to listen.

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Sympathize have some conversation.

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Don't claim responsibility of this had nothing to do with something

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that you could control.

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If on the other hand,

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you see that it's a rational problem,

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wrong product scent.

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Cause it was a mistake on end own up to it

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and then direct them through the system.

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You have set up already to resolve the situation.

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You know,

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we all want to be perfect in our business,

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right? We want everything to run smoothly.

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That's always the goal.

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Unfortunately, that conflicts with reality,

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the more time you're in business,

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you're more susceptible to things happening.

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And even if you were 100% perfect,

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you never,

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ever sent out the wrong product.

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Things always were delivered on time.

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Everything was delivered without any damage ever.

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You're still going to end up having that random customer who

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lashes out at you for some reason that may not have

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to do with your business at all.

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And it's how you manage through that will either detract that

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customer from you where they'll never work with you again,

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which might be okay if they're a crazy or it's going

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to make them an even more loyal customer moving forward.

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That's a wrap.

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I'm a get to the point kind of girl.

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And this is what you can expect from these quick mid-week

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sessions. Now it's your turn.

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Go out and fulfill that dream of yours.

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Share your handmade products with us.

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