The Caribbean, where I do most of my work, is a major retail market for jewellery. Most of the customers are tourists and do not live on the island where they made their purchase. So when there is a problem, the usual contact is on the phone or email. How you handle communication at this point is vital to the outcome. Your goal should always be a happy, satisfied customer. If they have a legitimate complaint, take care of it immediately.
Jewellery is an emotional purchase. It is normal for a customer to be emotional when they have a jewellery problem. Because of that you need to remove your emotion from the equation. A complaint is not a personal attack against you or your store. It is just business. Remain calm throughout the conversation. Practice talking in a slow clear voice. Low tones with careful pronunciations sound very authoritative and controlled. A high voice that is speaking quickly sounds nervous and unsure. Many older people (over age 50) have hearing difficulties that make high pitches difficult to hear, so speak low and slow.Allow them time to vent their frustrations, at least to a point. Always acknowledge the customer’s feelings. A good phrase that can bring them back to a calm state is: “you sound like a reasonable person….” If they start getting off on a tangent, try to calmly bring them back to the facts at hand. As they calm down, try to take control of the conversation. Ask appropriate questions that can be answered with a yes or a no or limited amount of talking. Calmly discuss the facts in a step by step manner. Get them to understand and agree with the facts at each step. Then ask them what they think is fair. It is amazing how often the customer “sees the light” and agrees with your point of view.
Be certain you know your store’s return policy. If your store does not have a written policy, make this your next project. You always have the ability to waive a policy in a customer’s favour if you feel that you can make them happy enough to continue the relationship. In fact, it makes them feel special to know that you made an exception just for them.
The same suggestions apply if the correspondence is by email. Keep the tone of your email calm and professional. Remember at all times that anything written in an email is a permanent record. Always be professional and business-like. If you think of each dissatisfied customer as an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and integrity, you can turn them around and make them a customer for life.
Of course, prevention is always better. Next time we will discuss how to keep most problems from happening in the first place.