We’ve all had it. Your previously fabulous 5* Google rating takes a nosedive because someone clicks the 1* button. Your messenger feed starts pinging louder than normal.
You get a phone call that makes you hold the phone away from your ear. Someone charges into the shop and starts ranting in front of other customers!
A complaining customer is the last thing anyone needs … especially if you’re not sure you actually did anything wrong!! But how you handle a complaint not only says a lot about your business but can often turn into a positive.
OK, that sounds pat and we know full well there are some cases when it’s just easier to give in for the sake of peace but there are some key things to take on board when a complaint comes in.
1: Keep calm
This is easier when it’s an online complaint because you can take time to think about but whether its online or in person never do or say anything you might regret later.
For online complaints simply say thank you for bringing it to your attention and then call the person rather than engaging in keyboard convo.
If they’ve phoned you consciously lower your voice saying you want to go into to the ‘office’. If they’re in the shop and you can, move to a quieter area of the shop to avoid other customers hearing.
Staying calm can often diffuse the situation and make the whole process more pleasant for both sides.
Always apologise for the fact they have found it necessary to complain. Until you know the strength of the complaint your reputation is on the line so you need to show you are taking it seriously without committing or admitting to anything but must show you are listening and want to help.
3: React quickly
Never ignore a complaint even if you think it is wrong. Anyone reading your reviews will wonder why you didn’t respond! An online complaint should ideally be responded to instantly/same day and certainly no longer than 24 hours.
If it’s a fake review (it happens!) and you know it is nothing to do with you just nicely say you have no record of the order and could they call you. Again, it shows you are on the case.
4: Never wriggle out of it
If you have made a boo boo then put your hands up straight away. Don’t try and blame it on anyone or anything else. If you failed/something went wrong, take the hit immediately and deal with it; be it refund, replacement or both … it will be a small price to pay for avoiding a bad reputation or getting a 1* on Google.
5: Value for Money complaints
These are the toughest simply because most consumers don’t understand flower prices or connect design and delivery with a cost so their expectations are sometimes unrealistic! It’s hard to explain, especially when they compare to supermarket prices but if you know it’s been done properly you need to bite your tongue and hold your position. Use the Good Florist Guide Infographic which explains why flowers have become more expensive and most people will understand.
6: Follow up
Always follow up with a note to the complainant to make sure they are OK, re-emphasising that their satisfaction is paramount and how sorry you are they had a bad experience. You don’t want to grovel but you do need to show people how well you dealt with it.
7: Fool proof systems
If you did make a mistake – be it wrong flowers, late delivery, incorrect messaging, whatever - your order systems should give you all the backup info on what should have happened. If they don’t then now is the time to start thinking about making changes as you should be able to trace every order exactly.
8: Don’t sweat it
Complaints are horrible but go with the territory of running a business. And human nature is that you remember the bad things more than the good. However as long as they are an occasional blip rather than a constant don’t beat yourself up. Learn from, share with your team how they can be avoided in the future and then move on.