Thursday, May 12, 2016

Digging Yourself Out of a Ditch - 6 Steps to De

Graphic by Sira Anamwong via

 Digging Yourself Out of a Ditch – 6 steps to De-escalate Customer Complaints & Resolve Problems

In business, especially small business, the customer’s experience is the most important thing for companies to manage and maintain.  But what happens when that experience is a negative one?  How can a company learn from these customer experiences?  And how can companies retain customers after a negative experience.  Here are 6 simple steps to handling complaints and resolving issues with a customer’s experience. 

Photo by Stuart Miles via

1        1.  Listen – The most important thing to do when dealing with a negative customer experience is   to LISTEN.  Let the customer talk.  Do not rush into resolution mode immediately upon hearing there is an issue, which can seem dismissive and condescending.  Really take the time to hear what the customer’s issues are and take notes if necessary.


          2.  Acknowledge the problem –  After listening to the customer’s account of the issue, ACKNOWLEDGE the problem.  This lets the customer know that you value their business and were ACTIVELY LISTENING to them.  At this point, apologizing to the customer for the problem and promising to find an equitable solution goes a long way to de-escalating the complaint and turning the customer’s mind away from the initial complaint and toward finding resolution.

3.              3.  Express empathy – Whatever happened, it impacted your customer’s experience to the point that the entire transaction has broken down.  Expressing empathy by reflecting back your customer’s issue and concern to them, shows that not only are you actively listening, but that you care.

4.              4.  Ask for customer’s input -  Now, I know this seems fraught with danger, but most customers have a very straightforward resolution that they are looking for.  By engaging them in the resolution process, the customer will feel respected and valued, but it also will give you a chance to hear their expectations prior to offering a resolution.

5.              5.  Offer a resolution –  At this point, you should have a fairly good idea of what your customer is expecting as far as resolution.  Now, that expectation may be easily met (replacement, refund, discount), and if it is, resolution can be straight forward and simple to accomplish.  However, this is also the stage when negotiation happens.  Balancing the needs of the customer with the needs of the company.  You don’t want to give away the cow with the milk, so to speak.  But you do want to find a resolution that retains the customer and is good for the company’s bottom line. 

Graphic by Stuart Miles via

             6.  Express Gratitude -  Thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention.  Thank them for the opportunity to resolve the issue for them.  A little gratitude goes a long way.

Customer Service is the back bone of any small business and is a way to differentiate yourself and your company from others.  Remember that all customer experiences are learning experiences.  Focus on ways that your company can improve the customer experience, rather than focusing on the things that went wrong. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

When One of the Balls Drop

When One of the Balls Drop

As a small business owner, I wear all the hats.  A one-woman show, and every other cliché that you can think of when everything depends on you, and you alone.  Moms know what I am talking about.   

We keep all these little balls in the air all the time, while we juggle our jobs, kids, families, passions.  And when we get sick, balls start to drop.  And because we are so used to and adept at multi-tasking, every ball that drops makes us drive ourselves harder and harder. 

We need to stop it.  We can’t possibly do it all.  That is why support systems and contingency plans are so important.  A lesson that I learned the hard way over the past couple of weeks while stuck in bed with the flu.  After several days of beating myself up for not being able to keep up, I started listening to my body to rest and recover.  I was doing myself no good denying that I was sick.  There was no denying it. 

So I gave in and let myself be sick, realizing that drive and ambition and a quest to make my business a success had taken over my life.  Those things are important, don’t get me wrong…but not at the expense of taking care of my health with just the basics.  Getting enough sleep, exercising, and self-care.  I had let keeping all my “balls” in the air take over, working into the wee hours and pounding back coffee when I was up early in the morning to start all over again.  And my body finally said “no more.”  And put me on my proverbial ass.

So here I am, 2 weeks later, well rested for sure – drinking tea with breakfast while I put out the little fires that cropped up over the weekend.  And I am also taking the day to work on putting systems into place so that my work load is better managed for when I cannot be in the office.  There are so many tools out there for social media management, inventory management, accounting, even shipping that can help us one-woman shows to keep all those balls in the air.  Without knocking us off our feet.

So use those tools.  Free up your time and your sanity.  Take care of yourself and your health so you don’t have to learn the tough lesson that I did.  But if one of your balls does drop, let it drop.  You can always pick it up later.   

Friday, April 8, 2016

WAHM & Summer Vacation

WAHMs & Summer Vacation

It’s April.  And suddenly it’s time to figure out the kids’ summer activities.  Now, if you are like me – April seems way too early to be thinking about summer at all.  But when you are living in a state where school lets out in the middle of May…basically you need to suck it up and get to planning.  So coffee in hand, I began to sort and sift through all the fliers for swimming, martial arts, extra reading help, summer school, etc.  So many choices.  

As a work at home more, or WAHM, the challenge is to add value to my kid’s summer, making sure she is engaging with her peers, learning a little something, and having fun…but also getting her out of my “office” for a while every day can be daunting.  You want them to be busy – but you also want to make sure they are getting a good rest from school to refresh.  

I’m a mom, I love my kid.  But as any WAHM can tell you, having a small child underfoot in your office for months at a stretch is a little like trying to knit a sweater while sitting on one hand and also dancing.  While blindfolded.  My daughter is at the age where she is extremely curious about what I do – but it’s not as easy to explain in a way that a 4.5 year old will understand.  She really WANTS to help, and I love that about her.  But her help isn’t always so helpful when you have weekly deadlines that have to be met.  

So my goal has been to find activities for her 3-4 days a week during her summer vacation.  So far I have tackled an early reading/phonics course which she is really excited about since she loves books and being read to.  And also Tae Kwon Do because she wants to learn martial arts like Daddy.  And because I am from an ocean state, I am trying to find a tots swimming class that doesn’t require me to get up at the crack of dawn.  Because I think every kid should learn to swim and learn to swim early. 

What about you, readers?  What classes/activities do you have planned for your kids this summer?