Ok, I have to jump in on this one. Almost all of my day job experience is related to customer service. There is a formula for handling difficult customers:
1. Listen to the customer. Let them say whatever they want, no matter how bad it is. If they are being disruptive in front of other customers, move them into a private office and finish the conversation.
2. Acknowlege the customer`s experience. Tell them you can understand why they are upset (even if they are being a total jerk about it). At this point, many customers calm down just because they know that you care. Sometimes that`s all they want is for someone to care.
3. Find a way to make it better. Ask the customer what you can do. Usually they will just say something like, "Just give me my product on time." More often than not, the customer will have an idea that costs less than what you are thinking. Assure them that you can correct the problem, and that it won`t be an issue in the future.
4. If the customer asks for a discount or something for free, give them credit toward your product or services. This makes them have to come back, and gives you a second chance to make a good impression. It also costs you less than flat out giving their money back, because you pay for the wholesale costs, not the retail costs. It also makes them happy so they don`t complain to their friends as mentioned by previous posters.
5. If the customer absolutely insists on having their money back, give back what you can. Of course, if they have some of your merchandise, get that back in exchange for the money. Tell them you`ll give them the money when you get your wigdet back. Try to offer other solutions first. This is a last resort though. Of course, sometimes giving their money back and cutting ties is worth it because you don`t have to spend more time on the person, and you don`t have to get into a legal battle.
As a response to the 33% newsletter question, in that situation, I would ask Mary if she has any friends that would also like the newsletter. I would apologize and explain the situation to the other two customers and hope they understand why I chose the frequency I do. Obviously you can`t please everyone all the time, but most of those people realize you`re a person too, so they will get over it, or they will move on. And of course, this is why most advice tell new business owners to find their niche, so they know of a specific type of person they can please.
Man - you ask a lot of questions. Maybe shorten the list - just a suggestion
Maybe you can be more specific. This is a broad question pool. But here`s a few answers:
All feedback is great. Some customers need to be fired. I listen to all customers. One complainer will usually infect 17 customers. The complainers can do more damage than many, many "content" customers. I listen to the noisy minority but the majority rules ... some folks just like to complain ... that`s life. Good customer "feedback" is not always in a survey ... you read between the lines, you spend time with them in relationship building. Good customers have to know that you honor and trust their advice - you tell them this. It is about them. Once they know you honor them, they give honest advice. It`s about relationships. You learn to cull ... real well. But always thank the complainers.
---HYBRID Digital Media
"Providing High Quality Design Solutions"