Customer complaints in floristry strike right to the heart, don't they? It would be so much easier if every customer just understood and loved all the beautiful things we put out into the world.
But they don't. And that's fine. Because in this post I'm going to share with you my tried-and-true tips for dealing with customer complaints in the floristry biz.
Five tips for managing floristry complaints
Here are five steps you can take to not only "neutralise" a customer's complaint (that is, minimise the chances it ends up as a bad online review) but also help you keep things in perspective, protect your sanity and even run a better business.
Intrigued? Read on.
Tip #1. Complaints happen and you're going to get them.
Every business in every industry on earth gets complaints. Yours is no different. In fact, I hope you get complaints in your floristry business.
Why? Because it means you're busy. The more customers you serve, the more successful you are, the more complaints you'll get. It's the law of averages and it's inevitable.
To be clear, they're not something you're ever going to look forward to but I want you to anticipate them, expect that they'll come and, most importantly, have a plan.
Tip #2. Focus on winning, not on being right.
When handling any complaint, you "win" by making it go away without turning into a bad online review or someone slagging you amongst their friends. You'll often find that you can even turn a complaining customer into a fan, just by following these steps.
However, "winning" is not about being right or proving the customer wrong. Perhaps you delivered exactly what they asked for. Or you suspect they left their bouquet out of water for too long. Maybe they expect their roses to last 4 weeks which is impossible.
Put it all aside. Your goal is to make the complaint go away quietly, it's not to prove that you were right.
Tip #3. Listen with empathy.
In some cases, your customer's complaint has nothing to do with you or the flowers themselves. Ummm....what?
Here's the thing, floristry is a highly emotional business and sometimes a customer places undue stress and expectations on what their flower order is gong to do.
I once had a customer complain because her $60 bouquet wasn't going to solve the 30 years of dysfunction between her and her mom (ok, she didn't say this directly but, after letting her vent for a while, it's what came out).
Therefore, in cases like these you'll find that most often the customer just wants to be heard. Don't fight, don't try to prove them "wrong', don't try to defend what you did. Just hear them out, acknowledge their disappointment and offer a solution.
In fact, many times having someone just listen to them is all they want. Give them airtime, space to tell their story and there's a good chance you won't actually need to do anything more.
Tip #4. Make a plan... before your next customer complaint.
Decide what your return or replacement policy is right now, before you get your next (or first) customer complaint. Do it now when you're clear-headed and not in the middle of all the drama that comes with a complaint.
For my business, I had a 48 hour no-questions-asked replacement guarantee — if you had any problems with your order in the first 48 hours, we'd replace it for free.
Because, although rare, we did get dodgy product from the wholesalers where the flowers wilted in 24 hours. But more common than bad product was that a customer just didn't like them.
And that was ok because we had a crystal-clear process for handling complaints. Our staff was empowered to deal with any complaint swiftly and effectively because they knew exactly now to solve the problem. No defensiveness, no fumbling around trying to find a solution in front of an angry, complaining customer.
Tip #5. Take responsibility and improve.
And finally, when a complaint arises because of a mistake your business made, own it. Step up, take responsibility for it and learn from it.
Where did we drop the ball? Is there something we can change in our process to ensure this doesn't happen again? Shine the light on where the hole is in your process and use the complaint as an opportunity to make your business even better.
However, don't beat yourself up over it because that's not helpful. Instead, put the complaint to good use by identifying the gap in your process and fixing it for the future.
What complaints in floristry mean
To conclude, I want to leave you with an important thought: a complaint doesn't mean that you're not good enough or that you're not good at your job. Nor does it mean that someone doesn't like you or that you're too expensive.
In fact, it doesn't need to mean any of those things. The only fact is that a customer has reached out to say they were unhappy.
So instead of attaching an unhelpful meaning to it, I offer you some alternative and better thoughts to think: here's an opportunity to improve our process, or put our new Complaint Plan into action, or to fine-tune our customer services skills.
Or maybe challenge yourself to "win" any complaints you get.
More resources on this topic
I've done a whole podcast episode on how to manage complaints in floristry. Listen in to the episode listed below or jump on to Spotify here.
And finally, there's more good stuff on how florists can conquer all things marketing, money and mindset. Grab my Free Pricing Guide #ForFlorists.