If you have never seen "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" I would highly recommend it. It's like consuming marshmallows and then having them sucked out of your eyeballs while listening to a never-ending mix-tape of Ice Cream Truck music. Why am I talking about Flapjack? I saw this exact episode the other day, and it brought me to tears. As you can see, he's holding a duck, and he's TRYING to make it into what he needs in his life, but it keeps quacking.
That's how I feel about customer service most days. I have all of my own ideas about how things should go, what the customers should get, and how to make a win/win situation out of every transaction. The customers oftentimes have other ideas. The grueling part is figuring out how to combine the "gluten" of expectations with the "butter" of abilities and the "sugar" of success all into one lovely batter to make delicious cupcakes that everyone can share!!
Let me start out by saying that I'm FAR from perfect at customer service. Many of you will be nodding your heads and thinking profanities about me whilst reading this. I'm sorry, that's all I can say. The POSITIVE thing here is that I learn from every mistake and complete failure that I make, which means I learn something new about 20 times a day. Rather than giving you a cute little list of "Ways to Make the Customers EVEN Happier!", I will give you a list of ways to blindly blunder and misfire when trying to run your own little small company. (Remember, I only know about running small businesses, so if you're some bigwig CEO reading this.....oh, never mind, why in the freak would you read this?)
The BEST ways to Mis-communicate and Thoroughly Suck At Customer Service:
1.Remember, you're ALWAYS right! :) (*sigh* The irony here is that "The Customer is Always Right" is...well....right. You won't get anywhere with protesting and sputtering out indignant declarations of omnipotence. SO WHAT if you know EVERYTHING about the company and built it from the ground up with your blood, sweat, and tears???? So WHAT if you design, perfect, and manufacture the product? They don't care if you spend 20 hours a day working, and then dream about the company at night, whilst they think about their order for maybe 10 minutes a day. It DOES NOT MATTER. They need to feel right, because that's what they're paying for. Let them have it.
2.Another way to suck? Pretend that you are self-employed because you wanted to be your own boss. Aahahahahahahaahha. Friends, I would like to welcome you to the reality of "self-employment". Rather than having one single boss to answer to, you end up having hundreds and thousands. The customer is the boss of you! If they're crappy at managing, belittle you, or make you feel like a pile of leftover McDonald's fries, they're STILL your boss. Now, gratefully, in my own company, the "crappy boss" is definitely the exception. 99.9% of my customers end up being marvelous bosses, but they're still ALL my boss, telling me what to do, telling me how and when to do it, and giving me deadlines and ultimatums.
3.Hope you'll get rich. wah, wah. wah. I'm fairly convinced that the only way you ever get rich when running your own small business is to find people who want to purchase your company for a large amount of money.
4.. A great way to fail? Try to take a vacation and get some relaxation. Unless you're in the mood to go and get a lobotamy, just remember, your company will NEVER leave your brain, especially if you work from home. You won't ever be able to "leave work at work".
5.Last way to fail? Think that you can do it all alone.
When I started this company, I was adamant about not ever getting to be a huge company. I LOVED answering 15 emails a day from excited customers about my 3 items that I had on ebay. Squee! That meant I could answer my mail in the morning, hop onto my sewing machine, and sew all of my pending orders in one day. Fast Forward 6 years. We get roughly 200 emails a day, I have a whole crew comprised of my family, over which I constantly crack the whip of injustice! I slave, sacrifice, and stumble over every day, and it's still not enough. If every part of each day was spent with all of my crew doing money-making things, it would be spectacular, but we spend a goodly amount planning, tagging, dictating the answers to emails that are just broad-based questions rather than orders, altering, reinforcing, photographing, packing, labeling, stressing, crying, yelling, giving up on life, eating Cadbury Mini Eggs, apologizing, comforting, inspecting, and getting beaten to a pulp. And then, the next day we get to do it all over again.
So, hopefully this didn't come off as too stressed out or bitter. It's been a HARD couple of months, to say the least. Every time I post something that's truly from my heart, I have a few ladies who find it necessary to write me nasty emails about how unprofessional I am. Bring it on, ladies. Bring. It. On.