Golden Rule of Retailing:  “It’s not what you said, but how you made them feel”

Words today fly through the air at warp speed, crash landing on FaceBook, Yelp, and other public sites for the entire world to see. The Internet is loaded with reviews and complaints about businesses that drive owners frantic.

Any given day I read owner responses to issues/problems posted on the Internet and always wonder if what they write is the same tone and tactic used with customer complaints at the counter.  For the sake of their business, I hope not.

It is so easy to understand an owner who has invested time, sweat and life savings into opening a business, to take everything that happens during the business day, personally.   However, it is the smart owner who recognizes that a successful business is absent owner ego, and quickly learns to address issues using polite, brief and humble words.

Some suggestions:

The problem:  Internet critic complains that the children’s resale buyer rejected all of her “good stuff” while there is all “kinds of stained clothing” on the racks.

The answer:  Thank you for your concern, we strive to improve. We always appreciate hearing from our customers.  We buy all seasons year round, we hope you will return and sell to us again.

The answer was polite, did not attempt in any way to correct the complaint and was humble.  Because the answer is a stark contrast to the complaint, owners can trust that a high number of blog readers will view the complaint as not very valid.

The problem:  Internet critic accuses children’s resale buyer of “not paying hardly any money for her stuff.”

The answer:  Thank you for your concern.  Occasionally we find that sellers prefer garage sales or methods other than cash on the spot for their goods.  Our store provides a service to those who want the cash and a value to those who purchase.

The answer again is polite, and addresses the concern with an “it is what it is” like response.  Nothing more is required.  Simple and brief.

Lastly, the use of email and text to address a customer service issue courts disaster.  Pick up the phone and talk; nothing can replace a kind voice and understanding tone, especially when delivering information a customer does not want to hear, such as “I’m sorry, we weren’t able to purchase any of your things today, sometimes it happens.  I hope you will try again another time.”

In the Internet age the words business use to address complaints and/or concerns matter….remember “It’s not what you said, but how you made them feel.”

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