Last week, we had a person call Tina in Customer Service a “Bi**h” on the phone. It wasn’t a particularly great moment for us in Customer Service. And then, it got worse. The customer sent multiple harassing emails, threatening to tarnish our name and reputation “all over the internet” unless we gave her a refund for product she insisted was bad but that she couldn’t prove she ordered from us (no order number nor could we find an order under her name for) and she had not returned to us. The individual’s daughter called and said, “It would be in your best interest if you just refund us now” with another threat to ruin our reputation.This type of behaviour isn’t new. It’s happened before. But, in the age of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Yelp etc… it is particularly difficult to deal with. In Seattle, bartenders are reporting that customers are threatening to post bad reviews of their bar unless they get free drinks. There’s a term for this; it’s called “Shopping Terrorism.” The official definition: “It is the act where a shopper threatens negative reviews about a merchant or business because they do not get what they want. ”
If you’re a small business, here are some ways that you can combat “Shopping Terrorism”:
(1) Have clearly stated customer service policies, in writing, easily accessible. For example, Bramble Berry’s Policies page is here. It covers returns, shipping times and more. Be consistent with your rules but always err on the side of the customer. The goal is for your policies to enhance and help the customer service experience, not impede it.
(2) Set up a ‘Google Alert’ for your name and your company name. You can set up Google Alerts for free here. Google will email you when your name pops up on the Internet. Please note that they will not email you if your name pops up in a forum. Those “closed” systems you need to monitor yourself.
(3) Use Search.Twitter.com frequently and search for your company name. That direct link is here. The Mozilla browser also has a Twitter Search Add-On if you use that browser.
(4) Cultivate friends and fans by being active on your Facebook Fan page and blog. Curious how Bramble Berry does it? Our FB fan page is here and we try to interact and be helpful throughout the day and on the weekend.
(5) The reason for cultivating friends and fans? It’s just good business sense since people buy from people they like AND, right now, chances are that your customers, friends and fans will be the first line of defense with any negative postings about your company before you will. If you have an entire host of people watching out for you who genuinely like you and feel connected to you, this is the best defense against shopping terrorism.
The best defense against negative reviews or shopping terrorism is to run your business with integrity; ship out your products in a timely manner, have fair prices, keep consistent service and always respond to customer emails and phone calls promptly. But, if things go south (the old adage “You can’t please everyone all the time,” comes into play the larger you get and the more customers you serve), the above five suggestions will hopefully help.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this – any suggestions will help me AND your fellow readers.
Carolyn Fletcher says
My husband and I own our own business and are also fanatics when it comes to providing excellent customer service. Unfortunately, life being what it is, there are occasional miscommunications and misunderstandings which we try to remedy as quickly and in the best way possible. These problems do occasionally result in negative online reviews no matter how hard we try to remedy the situation. I really believe that most people understand that there is a small percent of the population that refuse to be satisfied despite your efforts and are happy to complain over the most petty things. When I personally look at company reviews online, I try to get the “big picture” which I can only hope is reasonably accurate. If one or two reviews in twenty is negative, I tend to disregard these as coming from unreasonable people who have little empathy or common sense. I really feel that most reasonably intelligent consumers understand the pitfalls of dealing with the public and are willing to give businesses the benefit of the doubt if most of the reviews are positive.
Becky with Bramble Berry says
Good morning, Carolyn!
Thank you so much for your feedback! It really can be a little tricky dealing with this type of shopping terrorism, but we love your positive view on it and how you go about not letting it affect your business. =)
-Becky with Bramble Berry
Many shopping and couponing magazines are telling people to harass retail establishments for discounts. It’s disgusting and fraudulent.
Becky with Bramble Berry says
I agree with you! It’s definitely frustrating being on the end of the business when you are doing your best to help your customers get what they need.
-Becky with Bramble Berry
Excellent problem to bring up…this has happened to us several times at our business – most recently in the last few weeks also and there is no way to contest or have these false reviews and comments pulled from Google or Yelp, etc. So frustrating!
Becky with Bramble Berry says
I know that it can be hard to deal with, but I think that when business owners acts with facts, patience and determination that they can be the ‘winning’ party in situations like this. Just being the best business owner you can be will help people see that you are good at what you do and that you have an awesome and quality business.
-Becky with Bramble Berry
I read this post when it was first published, but I came across it today and wanted to comment. I noticed that “n” above mentioned something similar to what I was thinking- that it takes *all* of us to combat shopping terrorism.
When you have a positive shopping experience (on etsy, ebay, or even in everyday grocery stores) it’s a good idea to take some time to leave a positive review for the shop or the store.
If someone sees that an etsy shop or ebay seller (etc) has 100 positive reviews and one angry person, they can make a more educated decision than if even 30, 40 or 50 of those hundred hadn’t left feedback. If someone sees a few good yelp comments for a local store, they can make the decision to shop there a little easier than if they were just window shopping, or if one angry customer alone had left their ‘feedback’.
It’s well worth the time to give someone specific feedback- what you were thankful for when you received your order. Did they ship it quickly? Is the item as it was described? Were they friendly when they sent your invoice, receipt, or shipping notification? Were you just plain happy to have the thing you bought? It means a lot to a small business owner to have a record of good service shown in their feedback. 🙂
(Speaking of which, I have a couple of items that I need to leave feedback for right now…)
This is SO true. I have a bajillion Etsy things to leave positive comments for you. You’ve inspired me to sit down and do it. Thank you! =)
And your point is true – so very true. If more people that had great experiences left comments, it would really neutralize those one off negative comments.
I just came across this blog post and I’m a business owner too. Before running my own business I had always worked in careers where Customer Service was top priority. As upsetting as these situations can be, I’ve always comforted myself knowing that I had to deal with them for 5 min to perhaps an hour, BUT they usually go home to some poor person who has to deal with them for at least 16+ hours :0)))))
Your tips were spot on Anne-Marie and I’m glad you posted this topic. You’ve helped a lot of people. Nice !
That is so true – I have said that before too! =)
Thanks for reading. And commenting. I so love reading readers’ opinions.
Thank you so much for the tips and lending your experience. BTW, I have never been anything but thrilled with your products, your videos, your ideas! I live in a suburb of DC and I’m starting to provide products that people would have to drive 35-40 miles, one way to get; or they would have to order online. It’s so fun to see ladies’ eyes light up when they see my products that I never carried before I found your website. I’m going to try my hand at the fun bath jellies. I want to develop a kids’ line. I consider BB and AM to be an excellent source of products, info, and inspiration! I’m truly indebted to you for breathing new life in my small business. I think this is key. You provide so much support!
Aw, thanks so much for the support and the incredibly positive not. I really appreciate your positivity and your business. I’m so happy that you’re able to delight people with your products. Isn’t that a great feeling? =) Love it!
Here’s to even more delights in 2012!
Julie Takase says
ought to send her some soap so she can wash that dirty mouth!
Jack Stewart says
Don’t worry about it. The person who said “The customer is all way right” was a customer.
Your company does a great job and I have never had a problem with you. Your products are top notch.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the support, Jack! And, thank you for your business.
I love Brambleberry and you Anne-Marie!
I have only had one mix up with an order and it was promptly resolved and not your fault it was from shipping im sure. Any way, I have to say, I have never been so pleased with orders from you guys!
Yay! I am so glad that we were able to resolve the issue quickly and that you remained a customer. Thank you so much for your support =)
Wow, some people are just so unreasonable! Of course if you don’t have an order number, and the compnay can’t find any record of your purchase in their system you are not going to get a refund. What else would you honestly expect? That’s just ridiculous. I’m sorry you guys had that experiance, I’ve always found Brambleberry to be very friendly, fast, and professional. Thanks for the great products, service, and resources.
Thanks for your support =) I’m so happy that you’ve had a good experience with Bramble Berry. Yay!
Deborah Ward says
Someone gave me the link to this article you wrote, and I am soooo glad they did! The same thing has been happening to us at Natures Garden! It is not just your company; your company has an outstanding reputation in the soaping market, and everyone knows it! Thank you for the ideas on how to combat this! What an absolute shame that people think it is ok to treat others this way! So…it looks like we will be bashed together…LOL! We have been threatened as well.
It happens and it’s always nice to know that we have company (as bad as that sounds). Here’s to ending 2011 successfully with our amazing friends, customers and soaping community. You know it as well as I do – 99.99% of our awesome customers are just that …. awesome! Thank goodness the very very small group that are less than awesome is just that … a very very small group. =)
How horrible, how did it work out in the end? What did you end up doing to get to a resolution?
We requested the customer return the product so we could inspect it. =)
First off, I just want to say, it’s obvious they were horrible because I had a problem with my soap order and Tina was fantastic! Took care of it instantly! (Thank you Tina! The second batch of goat’s milk soap was PERFECT! Just ordered more!) Second, THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE! I went through a horrific instance with a customer recently that went so far that I was getting over 50 emails a day and she even told me how my daughter was going to have a horrible life living with a single mother. It was horrible. But my other customers on facebook rallied around me like real troopers and I love them dearly for it. To know this happens to others, doesn’t necessarily make me feel better or worse because it’s happening to others. I actually just saw a commercial for a company http://www.reputation.com that specializes in this type of review harrassment. It’s so sad that it’s come to this. I know a lot is because so many companies no longer deal “face-to-face’ but over the internet which makes people feel gutsier than if they were doing this to someone’s face, but that should not the case. The women I had trouble with bullied me until I began to feel suicidal. I shut my store down and was terrified to reopen it. I’ve even had trouble processing orders lately because I’m just so gunshy about my business now. But that’s what these people are. Bullies. And they should not be allowed to do this. The customer ISN’T always right. And we, as small business owners, shouldn’t have to bow down to their every demand. Because some of them are outrageous! I commend you for this article. Thank you so much!
Oh wow, your story sounds awful. Just know that those types of customers are far, far in between and there aren’t that many of them out there. I’m so sorry you had that situation and I hope that you can slowly get back on that business horse and get back to where you were before. I am so sorry that you felt bullied. No one should EVER feel that way.
Brooke LaFevre says
When I first read this blog it really upset me. I was upset at the way this person treated you and your staff. I know, I know – the blog wasn’t about that, but I have to say this: Bramble Berry has become my supplier, I interact with BB via FB, Twitter, Swaps, and email. Your customer service is second to NONE. When I get an email or comment on facebook from your staff (or you AM)I can HEAR the smile as I read!! I know without a doubt that you and your staff would bend over backwards to make your customers happy. Sorry Tina had to be subject to that rudeness. I know, it is part of “business”, it is going to happen.
Love Bramble Berry
A VERY HAPPY customer 😉
Aw, thanks for the love Brooke. I appreciate the protective response on our behalf. You are so sweet. And just know that we love every single option and opportunity we have to interact with friends, fans, customers and our soapy community on all of those mediums that you mentioned. =)
Robbin Melton says
OMG, this is absurd! I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re doing this to a lot of non-big box companies in an attempt to collect undue money. I’d report them to the police.
Interesting – that’s what my Dad suggested as well. I hadn’t even considered that. That would be so sad if that was the case =(
Robbin Melton says
It is sad, but this is a form of extortion. Quite a few people do this and sadly, some businesses give in just to rid themselves to the nuisance. Your dad sounds awesome, LOL!
Cannot believe what I have read. Tina, is a rock star!. She is so supportive and understanding, why would an irrate insignificant person say this?!
But I can say it’s not just in Customer Service you notice this aggression, it’s even happening in my world..Hospital Care.
Wanted to say/write, thanks for all the “voodoo you do so well”.
Interesting, in hospital care as well? Yikes. That’s another place where anger definitely doesn’t help the situation. Thanks for the support of Tina though. We talked about how sweet the blog comments were, specifically about her, and I know it really touched her that so many people were offended on her behalf. =)
Linda M. says
Anne-Marie, it’s happening all over the place. I work in a church and get calls from people who request assistance because they can’t afford to pay their utility bill, rent, etc. But when I tell them it’s our policy that they need to come in and fill out an application and they need to show an ID, and meet other requirements, and then the application has to be reviewed, some of them get hostile! Only a few actually come in and fill out the paperwork. It’s sad that so many people resort to bullying to get what they want.
I just started a soap business this summer and love BB’s products. I’ve never had to use CS, but I have no doubt that if I did, my problem would be resolved quickly and to my satisfaction! Thank you for being such a great role model to new business owners.
This last Spring I placed an order with Brambleberry and as usual the products were above reproach but there was one little snafu… there was a soap sampler in my order that I had not ordered. My friends told me not to say anything to your company, that it was your mistake. i thought that if my order was short I would call and complain so I should call if it was over. I called Brambleberry and told them about the mistake. I paid for the sampler and my friends all called me stupid for it. I tell you this because Brambleberry has always been honest and fair with a customer service team that is the best I have ever experienced both online and in the ” real world”. I love your company and your blog makes me feel almost like friends. Thanks for all you do and don’t let negative people or scammers get to you. Yall are great.
Claudia, I think I remember that situation! And what goes around comes around right? So karma will come back in some other form. I really really believe that with all my heart. Thank YOU for your support, your business and most of all, your attitude of integrity. It is rare to find these days and I love it that you’re part of our soapy soap queen community.
I used to make soap and I always enjoyed you’re blog so I’ve continued to read it even though I make and sell other products now.
This is my all time favorite customer email (sent during the busy season and at a time when there was a LARGE banner on every page stating a 14 day lead-time prior to shipment and a terms and conditions pop-up requiring acknowledgment of the lead-time):
Body: Hello: I am looking for a status update on my order #xxxxxx; The order was paid for and processed yesterday. I paid a premium for priority mail which means the order should be shipped by no later than tomorrow. Please confirm that my order will be shipped tomorrow. If i do not hear back my next call will be to the attorney general. You have taken my money and I would like my merchandise. Thank you for your prompt attention in this matter.
I admit I laughed…but good to know her state is in such good shape that the attorney general has time to devote to her $56 order.
It’s so interesting that you mention the mis-perception of Priority Mail. We had three people upset today that their ‘Priority Mail’ packages were not shipped out before everyones’ Fed Ex Ground packages because they read the word ‘Priority’ and don’t realize that’s the branded name of the Postal Service. It’s genius on the part of the Postal Service (ha ha) but can be difficult if there are misperceptions. Thanks for continuing to read the blog and for taking the time to write a comment. =)
You know, I never thought of that misconception! I can really see that happening! Thanks for that thought bubble!
Margarete Silva says
This post is a clear example of the type of company BB is, and people such as the customer described should know better. I couldn’t agree more, run your business with integrity, create a relationship with your customers and you will be fine. There will always be someone unhappy about something, or even worse trying to sabotage someone else success, that is just the world that we live in. BB team you do a great job, just keep it up!
Thanks for your support Margarete =) We are so thankful to have supportive friends and customers through all of our ups and downs and this situation is no exception. Thank you for the props!
lisa dravis says
I have been working with your company for over 5 years. I am so impressed with your customer service, patience,kindness and professional standards. I own a spa and a handmade body care business. I am extremely busy yet your customer service team has always come through even when my request was something out of the ordinary. Shopping with your company Is like shopping at nordstrom. You have accomplished customer service that is beyond expectation. Great leadership sets the standard for this. It is very sad when someone cannot understand how difficult it is to be in customer service. Your company does not deserve that treatment. Thank you for everything. Lisa
It has ALWAYS been my goal to have the Nordstroms of customer service so your comment absolutely made my week – thank you! What a great compliment. I once heard Blake Nordstrom speak and I was blown away by his humble attitude of servant leadership and commitment to a perfect customer experience. Thank you for your support here and also for your business. I appreciate your long term patronage.
In all the years I have been ordering from Brambleberry I have never once had a bad experience with an order or any representative from your company. Sadly I think this aggressive behavior is just yet another sign of woeful economic times where it seems some people are just looking to get something for nothing. 🙁 Keep up the good work Brambleberry, and tell Tina next time someone calls her a b*tch she should tell them it takes one to know one! I know that’s not Brambleberry’s style, but I bet it would’ve left her a little flustered, lol!
Ha ha … yeah, we probably wouldn’t ever say that but it’s a fun fantasy. =) We are definitely human and make mistakes and we try to own up to them when we do but in this case, we’re still scratching our heads about the situation and how we could have changed anything. Thanks for popping in for a comment. I love hearing your opinion – and your sassy comeback!
Excellent post! Very clear and you are right. A few weeks ago I had a customer like yours, He wanted to refund a mold used but of course, perfectly clean.
Ah yes, it happens to us all. I love your labels by the way. Your website is designed beautifully.
Whoa! I spoke to Tina literally a few days ago and she was wonderful. She was polite, cheerful, and helpful. I doubt I’ve ever dealt with a more pleasant (and professional!) service representative.
I wouldn’t put much stock in this terrorist’s threats. These types of people aren’t new and a savvy shopper knows to expect a “revenge” negative review. Sadly, it’s not uncommon.
That aside, Bramble Berry has a stellar reputation and loyal customers. One terrorist (or even two) can’t dent that.
Isn’t she fun and cheery? We love love love having her on our team and whenever I hear her talking to a customer, I always know that the Bramble Berry brand is in good hands. =) Thanks for the support.
Lori Rodenbush says
Thanks forthe heads-up on hints and tipos on how to handle this type of situation. For all of the great links you have provided as well!! I’m still trying to get my new home-based business up-and-running, kind of in the baby crawling stage right now. SO this mid of information is SO HELPFUL.
Sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with a customer like this. I know that I agree with A LOT of others when I say BRAMBLE BERRY STAFF ROCKS IT!!! Keep up the GREAT JOB!!!
Welcome to the business world! If you haven’t read back on the business posts I’ve written over the years, we have 5 years of ‘in the trenches’ business advice under the Personal Ramblings and Business Musing (http://www.soapqueen.com/category/business/) that might make for helpful reading. Just remember, baby steps and baby crawling is a great place to be. Small, steady progress wins in the end. =)
Thanks for being a customer. I appreciate the support. And definitely let me know if there are blog posts or topics that would be helpful for you as you continue in your business journey.
Although having this type of customer is extremely rare for me and my business, I established from the onset a policy criteria that is not only able to be read with a click through, but in our cart, they must give us an electronic signature before they can complete shopping, stating they have “Read and Agree with our Polices.” They don’t sign this whether they read it or not and they don’t get to finish shopping. It has worked flawlessly and to date we have had zero chargebacks or complaints on the net. I mean there are those that are discontents and nothing makes them happy, but these I ignore and move on to more positive things, including the customers that care about themselves and others. Their rhetoric eventually fades to the background. One thing I never do is get caught up in their agenda, by monitoring things to death, as this is not productive and I am now too busy to worry.
Here is a classic, shining example of what some people will do to make a buck or cheat the retailer. I was in Coldwater Creek a couple of weeks ago and a women came in with a pair of pants wanting to return them. No tags, no receipts just that she stated she was not happy with them. She had her young daughter with her and they try to find it on the computer, but just like in Brambleberry’s case, no info on file that she had ever bought them there. They finally were resolved to give her a refund, but at the last sale price they were on according to store policy, which was $17.00. The woman protested stating she paid way more than that, when her young daughter all of a sudden, chimed up, gosh mom, you paid more than that at the garage sale….DONE…. end of story as they showed her the door. As they say “out of the mouths of babes.”
Cheers and great story. Thanks for sharing.
Oh my, what a hilarious story! I would have been sooooooo embarrassed about that if I was the Mom. Yikes.
I’m so glad that your policies check box helps keep your stress levels down with your orders. That is awesome!
Boy! If there was one company out there asking for bad publicity, it is *****[name removed]! I can’t seem to get my kukui nut oil I ordered from them in August! Nobody answers the phone or emails and their open hours are weird and shortened, so continuous follow-up for a busy person is nearly impossible! My only hope is Bill (owner) or one of his staff reads this….. They used to be reliable. I kind of feel lost as to what to do. I am not a slammer 🙂
Aw, that is so sad. They ran a great business for many, many years (at least over a decade). I know that their owner passed away. It was a loss for the industry. I’m hoping you get your order but keep in mind that you can charge back your credit card so you should review when that option expires. That’s always the last resort (it costs the vendor money AND dings their credit with the credit card processing company) but if you can’t get your product, that is always an option.
I agree with most of the posters. Although I didn’t ‘evolve’. It’s been hitting my business/me also. The single most important thing for me, is to have that ‘must read’ page. It’s great to be able to say, ‘you must have missed that when you read the shipping/policies page’. I KNOW they didn’t read it, although it’s in huge red letters on the top of every page.
I also keep very good records. I use USPS and keep track of all shipments. Ditto with quickbooks, which I use.
If a product goes astray or the package was damaged, it depends on the customer’s attitude, but generally I send them a freebie.
I’ve recently had one of like caliber, however the positive customers far outweigh the negative ones. For every negative one I get, God sends me 3 others that are singing my/business praises.
I go to great lengths to help them, however I have found that standing politely firm is what works for me.
I 100% agree with you that for every negative customer, there are an overwhleming amounts of positive ones which I am so so thankful for.
Your idea of keeping good records is totally solid. It’s very important to do that for your sanity too! =)
Susan Thomas says
What an awful experience! I agree with all the supportive comments from the rest of your ‘friends & fans’ – I have had nothing but positive experiences with you folks. You have always answered my questions and resolved any problems promptly and kindly.
Love you guys!
Aw thanks Susan. Your sweet support means a lot to me! And, to Tina!
Thank you for the excellent advice. Although the snake creeped me out a bit.
We also use Google alerts to keep up with what is being said about our business. It’s also a good idea to set up an alert for common misspellings of your business name, just in case someone is typing in a hurry.
Oooooooh, misspellings. I had not at all considered that. You are genius! Love that idea.
Teri T says
Count me in as one of the “friends & fans” group. Thank you so much for the info for those of us just starting out. Good advice. I’ve always been more than satisfied with product & service. It’s pretty sad that people think they can get away with something if they get nasty and threatening. Just how do you behave that way to someone?? Not to worry…we
re all behind you!
Thanks Teri. I’m hoping that our experience helps others. A new business, just starting up? That kind of behaviour might give them a heart attack! =)
It’s a double-edged sword. Individuals have the power now to be heard on a larger scale than ever before, especially where larger entities are concerned. It has its positive points; however, it also has its drawbacks as this power can be used in a negative way, as well.
You’re right to say that cultivating your friends is a powerful force behind you. Your faithful customer/friends will rally around you when you need them.
It’s definitely a great thing for all of us as small business owners – we can reach millions of people (MILLIONS!) without the need for advertising etc… but, yes, on the flip side, it’s easy to have negative things spread far and wide (even if they’re not true). It’s important that we always act with integrity AND keep our eyes open for reputation and brand management too =)
I know you guys are on top of the game in regards to great customer service! I myself have been in Customer Service for 20 years and have heard every little thing you can think of, because there are those people that want something for free or simply want to tarnish a company to get what they want. Or, another good reason is because they are simply bored with their lives and have nothing else to do. I know a good company when I see one and you guys are it! And since Tina was called a bad name, no one, and I mean no one, especially customer service reps, should ever have to tolerate such behavior. Next time that happens, hang up on them, but politely. We are not hired on to tolerate attitudes and bad behaviors. I understand it comes with the territory, but no one should have to deal with that. As the last response says, no proof, no refund. Keep up the great work guys! You’re all awesome!
Kelly, I totally agree with you. No one, ever, is paid enough to be called names (ever, ever, ever). I think Tina was so surprised that she didn’t think to hang up. She handled it like the positive pro she is. We are lucky to have her. And, you, in CS for 20 years? You deserve a medal! =) It can be a tough tough job…
Oh Anne-Marie, no one would believe her side anyway. More than likely her bark was bigger than her bite. I just ignored a person that said she was going to a lawyer if I didn’t do what she said and it never materialized. She didn’t have a leg to stand on. I wouldn’t have given in, especially when you didn’t have record of her order. I would have demanded a picture of the product, with no proof, she gets no refund. Period.
Love ya Anne-Marie, you guys are the best!
Aw thanks Kristy. We’re definitely thankful to have such sweet customers like you. =) You especially have a special place in my heart!
We signed up for google alerts some time ago and have found it to be very helpful. We actually had a few bloggers do write-ups on our soaps that would have been missed if not for the google alert!
Sorry to hear about this angry person harassing the staff. I was a property manager for years and endured many difficult (sometimes downright unpleasant) phone calls. I never felt inclined to go out of my way for nasty people and have found that you always get more with sugar than with sass. You guys are great!
Thanks for sharing 🙂
ps….that snake is scary, lol
LOL! That was Amber’s genius idea. My vote was for a sweet little frowny girl! Ha ha…
It is interesting that you mention attitude – when someone is really mean to me or my team, my inclination is to dig my heels in and not ‘give.’ Sometimes though, it’s just not worth it. I remember one difficult woman from last month who insisted a product she received was bad but she wouldn’t give us her recipe or tell us any details about her process. When I instructed the CS gals that the customer couldn’t get a refund without more information, the customer said she was just going to hang up and keep calling until “Anne-Marie” picked up. And, then, she proceeded to do just that – filled up our voicemail etc… It was pretty clear that by digging in my heels that it was making the issue much bigger than it needed to be. In that case, it definitely wasn’t worth it! But I agree, if someone is sweet and understanding, it’s definitely easy to go the extra mile =))
I don’t care what’s going on, there is no reason to call a complete stranger a bitch like that. From what you said, this person was just looking for a handout. So really, who is the bitch here…..
I’m sorry your team had to deal with that. You guys are so great and professional and always a pleasure to talk to. No one deserves that, but especially not your team. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the support! I agree, bad language isn’t ever appropriate, no matter what the situation.
I wouldn’t believe someone who said BrambleBerry didn’t have good customer service. I have always had good experiences with your staff, the web page and your products. I’m glad you stood up to those terrorists!
Thanks for the comment Joanne. I appreciate the support =)))
This is why I think it is exteamly important to give credit where credit is do.If you love something say so! Be sure to post a review when you can and let the person know you appreciate the good job they are doing. People are quick to complain when something goes wrong. What about when thing go right or better yet exceed your expectations ? Are you just as quick to compliment
I so agree with you, N (now more than ever!). It’s important to praise when are where you can. I need to be better at positive positive reviews. There are so many wonderful experiences I’ve had and I need to definitely pay it forward =)
Theresa H. says
Oh my is all I can say! Even if there is a snag with an order BB always goes above and beyond to make it correct. For example, I just got two samples in my order today because mine was messed up last order. Thank you for your wonderful customer service!
Yay! Two samples is great and I’m glad the CS team caught that =))
I can’t believe people behave this way, but it happens, and Anne-Marie’s suggestions are very good defense mechanisms. I have a few more thoughts to add:
– Check web sites like Ripoff Report (http://www.ripoffreport.com) because they offer businesses the chance to submit a rebuttal/response. That way, even if something nasty is posted, you can be proactive.
– Develop a relationship with your customers. Make things less “corporate.” People are less likely to engage in “shopping terrorism” if they feel like they know the face behind the company. Hand write “thank you” notes with every order, give free samples with orders, offer free content online. Bramble Berry does a lot of this and it increases their reputation.
– Even if you are right, the customer is wrong, and they are trying to get away with shopping terrorism, perhaps offer them something so they feel like they didn’t go “home empty handed” so to speak. If you can’t fulfill a return for whatever reason (it wasn’t purchased from you, it violates the policy, etc), maybe offer a coupon code for 10% off their next purchase, or a $10 gift card. It may be worth it in the long run to prevent bad word of mouth, reviews, hate posts, etc.
– Remember, that we have evolved to remember negative experiences more than positive. Someone is likely to tell 5 friends about a positive encounter and 20 friends about a negative one. If that does happen, don’t let it get you down. 1 negative customer experience out of 1000 positive is a diminutive percentage.
– Also, most people are all bark and no bite. They see what they can get away with but their threats are empty. They’ll fight, argue, call you names, but in the end, more often than not, they won’t waste the energy to post something negative.
– Most importantly, beat them to the punch! Post something about the experience before the “customer” has a chance to. Why? This uses the “friends and fans will be the first line of defense” that Anne-Marie posted. She’s done this and look at all the positive responses! It works! Post something on Facebook, your blog, etc.
Sorry about your experience; remember the positive ones! 🙂
Jake, Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a helpful and thoughtful comment. You are *right* on with your suggestions and the reminder about people being all bark and no bite? So so true. I also agree that developing a relationship with customers is key too. After all, people buy from people they like AND, they invest their time and energy in people they like. Rip Off Report. Good one. That’s one more for me to add to my list of sites to check =) Thanks again for reading and for commenting.
How awful! I had never heard of this until reading your post.
I agree with you about some people just being . . . um . . . let’s just say, “a little left of center”. I personally had a bizarre incident that involved a person like that who was harrassing me on the Teach Soap forum. It was so disturbing that I never returned to that forum. I can imagine how bad it is when you have to deal with these people in your business life, because you can’t just walk away from your business.
Keep up the great work. You have enough people who know what a great company BB is, and what quality people BB has working for them. In the end, everything will be okay 🙂
Thanks Linda! Sometimes, people are difficult to deal with but 99% of the time? They’re amazing and I feel so thankful to be in the business I’m in. Soapers are the kindest, sweetest, most giving people. This one person was just a bad apple =) But, if our experience can help anyone else? I’m so all in! =) Everything is a learning experience….
Birth Announcements says
Currently “shopping terrorism” isn’t a huge thing in Australia, however I can see it coming here. You can just tell with some customers that they won’t be happy even before you get started. There isn’t a lot you can do about it, except realise you can please everyone 100% of the time.
Thanks for the link on Google Alert, will be signing up to that now.
You’ll love Google Alert. I sometimes get alerts for press that I never even knew we had gotten! =) I hope you like their service as much as I do.
I LOVE the Google Alerts tip!! Signed up already! I pride myself in great customer service and keep immaculate records.. I hate how some people expect everything for free and this is a great article on how we can fight back against bullies. Thank you so much! Aimee
Thanks for the comment and for reading. And great job on making customer service a pillar for your company. You won’t be sorry you did that =)
This disgusts me that people think that treating people like garbage is a way to get what ever they want. Your loyal customers wouldn’t believe that crap anyway 😀 You’ve always been great, and you’ve earned a life time customer!
Aw thanks Amanda. That is very sweet of you. Your support means a lot to me and the team!
Great post! There’s definitely something in the air lately…this topic is floating around on various messageboards, etc. Perhaps it’s exacerbated by the holiday season and stresses are increasing? Either way…not nice! I feel bad for Tina. 🙁
Thanks for the tip on Google Alerts. That one has managed to slip by me.
I’ve seen it on other boards too (including our FB page) and that’s what prompted me to write the blog post when it came up – I figured if it was happening to us, it might be happening to others too =)
I had something similar happen to me recently. The lady was very irate and posting ugly things on my FB page. I tried to help her at first, but soon realized everything she was saying was lies. It’s so frustrating to deal with this type of behavior.
Ah man, I’m sorry that you had to deal with that Heather. It’s definitely a difficult situation and it takes the fun out of business when it happens but thankfully, those types of people are far and few in between. It gets really stressful when that happens though so I hope that you were able to realize that it wasn’t you…. =)
Thanks for sharing this. Hopefully if these folks that are never satisifed see that we band together and will back each other up, maybe they will think twice but who knows? I have nothing but good things to say about Brambleberry-always been very helpful and products are top-notch!
Thanks for the support Tammy! PS – Your needle felted bunny pins are SO adorable ….
Thanks! My little boy wanted to have something on Etsy to save toward his Lego’s!! He is becoming a craftly little fellow!
A little entrepreneur in the making!
Hi Anne Marie,
Great post! I have been working with your company for several months and have nothing but positive comments to share.
Thanks – Traci
PS – I do have one request – no politics on the soap blog. While I respect Darla’s (previous poster) right to her opinions, this is not the appropriate forum. I’m sure that her political organization of choice has several blogs where she can join the conversation.
Thank you for your support and your business. I appreciate it! =))
Part of me wants to be surprised that there are people out there doing these things, but sadly I’m not.
I want to thank Bramble Berry Customer service and Anne-Marie. You have been the best I have worked with since starting my soaping business. Customer Service above and beyond what was every asked or expected. You guys are the best and I believe everyone here would agree.
Bramble Berry and Soap Queen has given me ideas for my business and personal life. I have taken these ideas and headed in a direction that I never would have taken before. All of them a great success and including what I am using now. My desk for my treadmill, thanks to Anne-Marie being a fine example of how important it is to stay healthy and fit so our businesses can too. I am writing the policies for my store right now and find that I am struggling with them. This show me/us just how important it is to have all our ducks lined up, so to speak. Now we know what to do if this should ever happen to use.
Thank you again for always being there, sharing with us.
You pay me the highest compliment when you say that you’ve gotten ideas for business and personal life. That is just such a huge compliment. Thank you for sharing that. =)
And, you got a treadmill desk?! No way! SO COOL! I was on mine for 90 minutes today, 90 minutes yesterday and I’d be on it all day if I didn’t have to do things like … oh, make soap and stuff like that. =)
Good luck with your policies. They pay off in the end even if they take a while to write.
Anonymous Customer Service Rep says
Oh man, as a customer service representative at an online bookstore, I see this on a semi-regular basis (college students are the worst). In fact, I just dealt with a customer today who was threatening to “go postal” on the company Facebook page. While the majority of our customers are great, there are always a few that are just nuts. As someone who deals with customers all day long, I really really recommend that you take A-M’s advice! Every little detail needs to be spelled out for customers, included shipping time, return policies, etc.
Wow, “go postal”? That seems harsh given the actual implications of that. I’m sorry that you have to deal with that. It really sounds like you’re such a positive person though and deal with it one day at a time. You’d fit right in with our happy go lucky team at Bramble Berry =))
Deby Coles says
This seems to be more and more common. I’ve been threatened with bad feedback unless I gave customers refunds or sent them duplicate orders etc in my Etsy shop.
I was reading a thread only today where one poor lady has had 30 counts this year of people demanding refunds on undelivered goods – and she has proof of delivery for all of them!
As a small business, this is terrifying. I know times are hard for a lot of people, but times are hard for small (and large) businesses too.
I only wish sites where customers give reviews could have a place for the business to respond.
OUCH! That poor lady! 30 counts of people saying they hadn’t gotten products? That is so sad. I’ve never heard of it so bad. =( It certainly makes our experience seem like a walk in the park….
Good luck with your business and I hope you only have sweet, friendly and thankful customers this holiday season =)
Ann Stoermer says
That is some very good advice. I can’t believe anyone would be mean to one of your staff that way since everyone is so sweet and accommodating, but it could happen to anyone. I love how you take lemons and make them into lemonade though. Every difficult encounter is a valuable learning experience. 🙂
I agree – it can happen to anyone – and if it can happen to us, it might happen to one of our sweet customers … thus, the post. If our negative experience can help anyone, then yes, it was a valuable learning experience. =)
I own several retail bead stores and I have noticed this behavior more and more frequently lately. It seems like some people thing the louder they scream, the more they’ll get…for free. Not with me. I have been in business over 16 years and with the internet and now the social media sites, especially sites like Yelp people can really make an impact on your business with their reviews/comments. It used to make me so mad when we got a bad review, especially when we know we didn’t do anything wrong…but I’ve learned to shrug off the negativity and focus on the wonderful customers we have and continue to offer excellent customer service to all our customers. As long as we know we’re being the best we can be, we will continue to have a loyal following. It’s a two-edged sword…this social media “thing.” I love your company and you have great customer service. Keep it up!
Retail bead stores? Now that is an interesting business – such small ticket items, it must make for a challenging business. You obviously are a business ninja to have been in business for 16 years (!!). I agree, make like a duck and let the water (negative reviews) roll off your back and keep moving forward, serving your customers and doing the best you can in every situation. Thank you for your kind words.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson says
Great post, with some super tips too. I am especially happy that you highlighted the importance of friends and fans. I agree that when people see that you have a tribe of sorts, you have a built-in mechanism to help you catch this kind of awful behavior. Plus, I think terrorists like to operate in secret, and think twice about telling lies if you have lots of happy customers who will call them out if they unfairly target you.
My sentiments exactly!!
I agree, people with bad behavior love to operate in secret so when they get called out, I think they’re shocked! That said, I’m thinking this particular person probably doesn’t read the blog because if they did, I feel like our happy-go-lucky, fun attitude comes through (or at least, I try to make it come through!) and the situation might not have happened.
Friends and fans … I love having such a great community to interact with and to get strength from. They’re the ones that make business fun! =)
Doreen Fish says
Yes, it is one of the evils of owning a business….I even managed a few businesses and the the same kind of terrorism showed up there. We are not immune to this no matter how good we are or how great our customer service is.In a world where good customer service has dwindled over the years it is wonderful when you find a company that has integrity and recognizes the value of a customer. Thank you BB and keep doing the great job that you do!You have my vote!!
I agree that no business is not immune to this type of behavior (which is so sad) but thankfully, those types of customers are far and few in between. We are so lucky in the soaping community to have such a supportive group of fans and customers, you included! =)
Very good artical… very creepy snake!! Eep!
Yeah, that snake definitely gives the heebie jeebies =)
I quickly scrolled the snake out of my view when I read this article. 😉
Maria Spieth says
WOW.. I’m so glad you posted this Anne-Marie! I’ve never had this happen, but its good to know how to deal with it.. since I’ll be launching my business soon and do have a a small group of friend-fans!
I’m sorry this happened to you and its sad that it DOES happen. Some people just make me wonder!
Yay! You’ll be launching a business soon?! That is fantastic. I can’t wait to hear how it goes – and hopefully you don’t have anything like this happen to you. =)
Thanks for posting this and speaking on a real problem in our social-media ruled world. We live by “Likes” and “Reviews” and it’s become a challenge to manage these perceptions. I love your tips and since they’re in a list format they really work for me! 🙂 I love your company; you’ve helped me learn, start my business, and I consider you a trusted partner both in terms of product and service. Love you guys!
Thanks Brenda. That’s a huge compliment. And, I think in lists too! In fact, I have one sitting in front of me right now to work on for tomorrow =) Let me know if there’s ever a business post that you’d like me to write. I love to write about our experiences if they can help any other small business.
I am sorry you have gone through this. However, the good thing about it is that you have informed us on what we can do to protect ourselves.
Thank you for blazing the trail! Continue to be strong.
That was the goal – to help our awesome and sweet soap community think about how they might work with this type of behavior if it ever happened to them =) Thanks for reading!
Darla White says
I personally believe this is happening more and more because certain persons in our current government have asked their friends in their political parties to do this on a massive scale. It’s part of the Progressive Agenda. 🙁 They want Chaos in the business world. We the Tea Party People do Not condone this kind of behavior. It’s wrong! When we find good businesses that we like–we send links to all of our friends to encourage them to use them too. 🙂
Terrorism is wrong– in all of its different forms. I really love watching & reading your how to shows on soap making. God Bless,
Anonymous Customer Service Rep says
I hardly think this is the place for politics, especially when you’re making sweeping generalizations about people you don’t even know.
Nah, some people are just greedy and generally not nice. Those people have existed since the begining of time. I hardly thing BrambleBerry is part of some large government plot. God Bless.
Or maybe she was just having a really really really really bad day? =) Thanks for reading! I hope you might learn something from our experience (though I hope that you never have to use the advice!) =)
I have been using your company for years. I took a break from soaping, but I’m back. Since my return, I have placed at least 5-6 orders without complication. Everything I received was of the highest quality. I had one little snag, but when I e-mailed customer service, it was resolved expeditiously. Someone is always wanting something for nothing. Sounds like a money-making scheme not much different than the bait and switch where they give you a large bill, need change, keep you busy talking then say you forgot to give them back their bill. Now they have their bill back, and the change you gave them. Not cool, but people will try to make money on your dime if they can! Keep up the great work! I love your stuff! Caroline
Caroline, I had that happen to me as a cashier in a restaurant. Sooooooo not cool. I never even seen it coming or had any inclination about it what so ever.
You guys at Bramble Berry are awesome, and I plan on staying a loyal customer for a looooooong time. You have taken what I thought was an impossible craft and made it so easy.
I use the internet a lot for reviews of products and services. You can usually tell when a review is bogus or atleast blown out of proportion when there are tons of positives. I take bad comments and very polished looking excellent comments (usually written by a paid rep 😛 ) with a grain of salt.
Thanks for the support Theresa.
Interesting re: paid reps, I have never ever considered doing that (!). But, I believe that cheaters never prosper so that kind of goes to that philosophy. I will often go onto negative comments and sign on as a representative of Bramble Berry to apologize or answer as best as I can but it’s always with my name. Reputation management online often means publicly apologizing or explaining as best as we can. =)
Tricia Samundsen says
Excellent post!! Customer Service is huge in my eyes, both as a businesswoman and as a consumer!! it is amazing tome some of the treatment customers get out in the retail stores especially at the holidays!!
Oh man, you cannot pay me enough to get out into the stores around the holidays. I try to have all of that done before Thanksgiving. =) I agree though – customer service is incredibly important, no matter what time of the year!
Sara Jean says
no worries-most of us are smart enough to know that you guys rock 🙂
Great tips too!
Thank you for the support Sara Jean. =)
Nancy Gates says
Thanks for this information!! Extremely helpful for those very few and far between customers who can’t be satisfied.
Thanks Nancy. I hope it never happens to you but at least now you’ll have a good idea about what to do =)