Thankfully, we all have far more very happy customers whom we may also call friends. They are the ones who make our work joyous. The joy is reciprocal, i.e. you mirror each other’s good and positive feelings. Then there are unhappy customers and difficult situations in which we seek to reveal the guilty party. How we handle the latter can have a phenomenal rippling effect.
How do you appear to an unhappy customer? Teeth gritted? Forced
smile? Drawing an invisible line for battle? Guilty? A problem solver?
How do you feel when a customer is unhappy? Victimized? Unfairly
treated? Threatened? Guilty? Determined to blame anybody but yourself?
Grateful and appreciative?
How do you see unhappy customers with difficult problems? Someone
who wants something for nothing? Someone who wants to blame you
when it is not your fault? An opportunity to learn?
How do you handle unhappy customers? Procrastinate facing the problem?
Determine to show them they are wrong and you are right? Take them
to court? Resolve the problem as quickly as possible and determine
who is financially responsible later? You don’t care whose
fault it is because you sincerely want that issue resolved to the
happy satisfaction of all? (This does not necessarily mean that
in all situations, you absorb the financial cost! We’re talking
YOUR CUSTOMER’S ATTITUDE
Years ago, the Ford Motor Co. did a study that revealed satisfied
customers tell eight people; dissatisfied customers tell 22 people.
With the Internet, you can only imagine how many people your customers
will tell of their experiences with your company. Obviously, dissatisfaction
could have a great impact upon your business.
Another long-ago study discovered that 90 percent of unhappy customers
who “fire” a business do not tell the business that they
are not coming back, much less why. Today we are all aware of the
unreasonable lawsuits that are filed. We lose extremely valuable
information when a customer does not tell us why they are unhappy.
Each customer with a problem will react differently. Some recognize,
as we all should, that life has its little ups and downs and those
annoyances do not matter in the grand scheme of the universe. Yet
there still are those customers who will deny any blame or responsibility
and immediately become demanding and belligerent. For whatever reason,
reasonable or not, they are unhappy and they want the problem fixed
their way immediately! Because they present an attack strategy in
expressing their discontent, the normal human reaction is one of
defense, which is, in effect, an attack itself as it attempts to
lay guilt upon the attacker.
How did you do with the first four questions I asked? All of us
have experienced those reactions except for possibly the last reaction.
Who hasn’t felt, if not expressed, “It is not fair! It
is not my fault!”? Who hasn’t commented out of vengeance,
“What goes around comes around”?
Yes, I have said these things in the past. It took years for me
to get to the point of accepting “the customer is always right.”
Notice I said accepting. By that I mean I resigned to be the victim.
It has taken many more years to see and understand that I was the
one making myself the victim and making myself miserable. “We
are what we think about!” I’m sorry, but I forget who
said that, but it is so true. The true freedom that we humans have
is that we can be whatever we want to be by putting that thought
into our minds. The mind does not differentiate fact from fiction.
In that respect, it is like a computer. It does, believes and behaves
the way it is told to. No other person on this Earth can break into
your mind and make it something different. Only you can do that.
I hope that if I give you a choice of joy and peace verses misery,
guilt and fear, you will choose joy. If not, then don’t bother
Because of your mind and spirit given to you by the universe, you
can choose to be happy all the time! It is that simple. In fact,
I believe God wants you to be happy all the time! He never put any
conditions on happiness. When you start getting uptight about a
difficult customer or anything else that might cause stress, just
remember it doesn’t have to be this way! You may want to visualize
changing channels on the television from a horror flick to a comedy.
Practice looking in the mirror. How do you look when you are happy?
How do you look when you are angry, sad? What you see in the mirror
is what your customers see. Is that the real you that you want your
customers to see? Keep in mind that body language and vocal tonality
contribute to the complete attitude picture.
MIRRORING AND MODELING
The preceding exercise is not just for you. It also is for the benefit
of your customer. Understand that if you are angry, your customer
sees that and your anger feeds his. Humans do have intuition—the
sixth sense—that can read things not seen or heard. If you
are happy, pleasant, sympathetic, sincere and completely uninterested
in blame, then your customer sees and feels that. If your anger
can feed his anger, then it makes sense that your sincerity will
have a calming affect upon the customer’s anger. It may not
be visible, but it will help him. In fact, if you have enough charisma,
you actually can turn his anger around.
First, you must expect and allow the customer to sound off. Haven’t
you wanted to, if not actually done that, yourself? Just be quiet
and listen to him with respect. His anger is his problem, not yours.
Just let the storm bounce off and consciously try to send pleasant,
calming vibes to him. Do your best to see him as a very calm understanding
soul. You cannot be affected by his anger unless you allow yourself
to be. And remember, draperies are not a life-and-death situation.
This soon will be over and in the past.
All of us have energy. Science has proven that. However, most of
us do not know how to harness that energy. Wayne Dyer, in one of
his books, tells of coming upon two young gangs in a high state
of negative tension. Dyer deliberately walked between them sending
out massive thoughts of love to them. As he walked away, he could
see that the gangs’ animosity had been diffused and they were
drifting away. The thoughts that you feel and believe when projected
can be extremely powerful.
When your distraught customer has had his say, that’s when
mirroring and modeling come in. These are terms I have learned from
self-improvements education, particularly from of Tony Robbins.
These terms mean to imitate by copying body language, speech patterns
and movements, e.g. crossing your legs the same way, folding your
arms in front of you, using the same pitch and vocal habits, etc.
Mimicking is a means by which to establish rapport.
Your customer will begin to soften because what he is looking at
is just like him—his favorite person! As he begins to relax,
you may find that he can be led by your actions to follow your calm
sincere demeanor. The reason this can happen is because you will
be the mirror he is looking into. His brain will accept and believe
what it sees. Your behavior is extremely important.
The best defense is an offense of love. Do not even think about
your financial expense involved. Refuse to see your customer as
anything but calm, pleasant and reasonable. If you send thoughts
of blame and anger to that person, via mirroring, you will receive
In a recent experience, I received an e-mail from an upset customer
who had purchased a product from us. Her wording clearly relayed
her annoyance that we would offer such an inferior product. She
was mailing the product back and expected us to pay all the shipping.
Unfortunately, this e-mail came in while I was on vacation. Before
I answered her, I checked my inventory. Sure enough, the stock we
had was defective. I checked my database and she had purchased with
a credit card. I immediately e-mailed her not to bother to return
the product and explained that I could only credit her credit card
for the initial amount and that I would send a check for shipping
the product back if she had already done so. I sincerely explained
to her how much we appreciated that she took the time to tell us
about this problem. I told her that we try very hard to maintain
a high quality in our products and that she had indeed helped us
to raise our standards a bit higher. I was not interested in blame
or guilt, only in completely satisfying this valuable customer.
She responded to my e-mail with a very understanding tone to her
message and said she had already mailed the product and to forget
the return shipping. You see, she was reflecting my good will back
to me. What a great feeling it is to send out a blessing and receive
Yes, there are times when someone else is at fault. It may be the
customer or perhaps a vendor or a subcontractor. In the latter two
cases, only after you have taken care of and made your customer
happy would you negotiate with them. Again, do so expecting and
seeing only fair behavior from all parties. If it ends up as your
cost, fair or not, take care of it, learn from it and move on. Do
so without remorse or feeling victimized. Otherwise, you hurt yourself
and any others around you.
YOU ARE THE MIRROR
Your life, your business is not about getting. It’s about giving.
What you do and give represents who you are. According to universal
law, what you do and give is what you receive. Think about that.
Now look at that backwards. If you accept anger, fear and frustration
from another person, then you have received what they expect in
return. By accepting their anger and becoming angry, you are attacking
the other person and, thus, you will receive it back again. Quite
a vicious circle! If you return it with joy and love, you will receive
that in return instead.
You, an individual, can make a tremendous difference in this world
by giving only love and refusing to receive anger and fear. Earlier,
by reading the rest of this article you implied you would rather
have joy in your life than the dark alternatives. Yes, negative
emotions will erupt now and then, but you can be vigilant and exercise
self-discipline. Immediately say to yourself, “It doesn’t
have to be this way!” Then change the channel! Now where is
that remote control?
Kitty Stein, CWP, WCAA past board member, is a 26-year veteran
of the drapery workroom industry. Having owned drapery workrooms as
one person and as a company of nine, she is now president of Workroom
Concepts a consulting firm offering educational resources to the industry
on its Web site (www.workroomconcepts.com).
Her experience in both the retail and wholesale window covering arenas
has contributed to her success as a business consultant. A professional
speaker and writer, she has authored several industry products including
Order in the Workroom, The Price List, Workroom Specifications and
Price Your Work with Confidence, available through D&WC