Handling problem emails

However brilliant you and your products are, at some time every business owner will be faced with an email from an unhappy customer.

There’s that sinking feeling you get when you open a ranting email – often made worse for a wedding business with the emotions involved (“You ruined my day…….”).

Try these top tips to ensure you can turn the situation around:

1. Investigate

Check what has happened from your perspective and make sure you are familiar with the customer’s situation. You may not have all the information you need from the email so you may need to contact the customer – see step 3.

2. Stay Calm

It’s easy to get angry or upset, especially if the complaint appears groundless or the customer is threatening, but it is important to keep calm and professional. Easier said than done, so if you are upset, take a little time to calm down. Try talking things through with a friend or colleague, go for a walk, listen to soothing music, drink a herbal tea.

Don’t leave it too long – customers will appreciate a prompt response.

3. Contact the customer

At this stage the main aim is to listen, get the information you need and empathise with the customer. It depends on the situation, but it is often better to telephone the customer at this stage rather than email.  Email can be very impersonal and it’s impossible to judge the tone of voice. Your customer may be much calmer in conversation than they were in text and there is less likelihood they will misinterpret your words.

If you decide to reply by email, draft this very carefully and read it over several times before sending to ensure it is clear and shows empathy.

You may want to summarise telephone conversations by email or letter – if the situation escalates, having everything in writing will be useful.

4. Take ownership

Assure the customer you want to resolve the problem.

5. Then do it.