How Do I Handle an Upset Customer?

First, remember Customer Service Rule 1: “The customer is always right.” Second, remember Customer Service Rule 2: “When the customer is wrong, refer to Rule 1.”

Most people are not out to take advantage of retailers. If the customer believes he or she has a legitimate complaint, it is a legitimate complaint. Perception is reality.

Never say anything that might make an upset customer feel defensive, such as “That’s not the way you bought this piece,” “It’s obvious that you’re very rough on jewelry,” or “That isn’t covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.”

Instead, let the customer know you want to take care of the situation. Do that by asking this key question: “What can we do to make this right for you?”

The answer may be less than you thought you would have to give. If the customer asks for more than you’re able to accommodate, then at least you have a starting point for negotiations and handling the issue. (Note: If the customer is in the middle of the sales floor causing a scene or within voice range of other customers, lead him or her back to a quiet area of the store or to a private room, if available.)

A salesperson’s job is to represent the customer to the company—not the company to the customer. Don’t defend the company, the product, or the vendor. Represent the customer in making sure he or she is happy with the purchase.

Most bad situations are easy enough to turn around so that the customer is actually delighted with how it was resolved. If you have to give a little more than you thought appropriate, write it off to your advertising budget because that’s what it is. A happy customer who tells friends and relatives about the superb customer service he or she received is the best advertising you can get.