Anyone else love waking up to angry or threatening emails from disgruntled customers? Doesn't it just make your day?
Just the other day, we received a somewhat aggressive email from a customer that was unhappy about a mixup with her order. We investigated her complaint immediately, owned the fulfillment error and offered a number of convenient solutions, including a full refund and replacement item, to the customer. She was equally upset and distraught with every step and presented solution. At one point, she threatened to report the store and publicly shame the business even after her all of her requests were met. The customer was simply inconsolable.
As frustrating as it may have been, angry customers often come with the e-commerce "territory". At some point, nearly all online stores will come across that one really angry customer that makes you want to scream, tell them how you REALLY feel or simply ignore them altogether. Of course, don't actually do this if you want to have a business beyond the dispute.
At our core, our agency focuses on customers and clients focused solutions, even in tense dispute-based situations. Dispute solutions should focus on creating a sincere, heart-first resolution experience for customers that shows them that their experience with the brand is important. By doing this, you position your business and brand as an entity that really cares about the experience, customers, and exemplary customer service. When the customer feels like you care, more than anything else, you preserve your brand reputation (from bad reviews) and reestablish your brand as customer-focused. You may even be able to convert
Here are 4 things to try when dealing with customer-focused disputes:
1. Prompt communication with your customer
I often come across businesses that REALLY drop the ball when it comes to communication in disputes. It's incredibly important that you respond promptly (preferably within 24 hours or less) to a potential or active dispute with your customers. It's important that you show them that their issue/dispute is important to you. You also want to keep a paper trail of the communication that can be used for your records if the dispute is escalated to a payment processor (like Stripe, Paypal, Square, Etsy, etc).
2. Be Human: Apologize and Empathize
For most angry customers, showing them that you're human and will handle this dispute as a "human" (aka not a computer/robot tied to policies and procedures) will help diffuse or even resolve the situation. You want to be sure to offer an apology for the experience and empathize with how they are feeling. Take this as an opportunity to show the customer that you are on their side.
3. Offer A Resolution That Works For Everyone
Soooo... what are we offering as a resolution? While it's crucial that you meet your customer's needs, be sure to offer a resolution that works for your business as well. Be sure to honor your costs, policy and terms to keep yourself in business. Can't give a free item + pay for reshipping costs? Try negotiating with the customer and find something that you both can honor.
4. Update your policies
Did you have to take a loss or eat the cost of an error with a customer? This is the perfect time to do a double-take on your current policies about lost orders, defective items, returns, cancelations and more. Review everything with a fine-tooth comb to make sure you're communicating the RIGHT policies to your customers.
Disputes will happen. It's how you choose to resolve them that has the greatest and longest impact on your business. Share your favorite resolution tips with us!