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Difficult customers are a fact of life for small business owners. Today, I’m going to give you 11 tips for dealing with difficult customers. You know, THAT customer.
Table of Contents
11 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Customers
Problem Customer: Can’t Make Up Their Mind on What Color Design They Want
Solution: Offer Fewer Color Choices
This problem is easy to solve by creating color charts for your customers. When people have less choices to choose from, it will be easier for them to make a decision. Imagine if I gave you the choice between 1200 colors or 12. It’s the same when working with customers.
Problem Customer: Wants to Keep Making Changes to the Design on a Custom Order
Solution: Offer a Set Number of Revisions
When I create custom orders, I always use a mockup to let my customer “see” the product before it is made. I offer the original, plus 2 revisions at no cost, every revision after that costs a design fee of $5 to $10. (Note: Need help making mock ups? Click here.)
Problem Customer: Asks You to Lower Your Prices
Solution: Thank the Customer and Move On
First, don’t be offended – aren’t you always looking for a great deal? Next, politely explain to your customer that your prices are non-negotiable based on your experience, time involved, and supplies. Thank the potential customer for their interest in your business and tell them you hope to serve them soon. If they order from you – great! If they don’t place an order – they aren’t your customer.
Problem Customer: Wants You to Make Items for Free
Solution: Have a Clear Policy in Your Craft Business About Free Items.
Usually, friends and family are the culprits of asking for free products. I believe that friends and family often don’t understand the time that it takes to design and create custom products. I don’t offer discounts to family or friends on products, read why and I’ve written a lengthy article about why.
Problem Customer: Complains About Shipping Costs
Solution: Build the Shipping Cost into the Product Price
Unfortunately for small businesses, many big box retailers offer free shipping, and customers are beginning to expect everything to ship free.
If you repeatedly have customers asking for free shipping, you can offer free shipping and add the shipping costs to your item instead. The customer ends up paying the same amount, but it is presented in a different way.
Problem Customer: Claims That Products Were Not Delivered
Solution: Always Use Delivery Confirmation
First, all packages you send should have delivery confirmation on them.
If a customer claims that a package is not delivered, don’t get defensive – the postal service and package carriers lose things all the time.
Either you or the customer can contact the carrier and see if they can track down the package. If the package cannot be found, you can replace the item or refund the customer.
You should stick to whatever is in your refund policy. If you haven’t already written a refund policy, learn how to write a refund policy.
Problem Customer: Demands Products in a Short Period of Time
Solution: Charge a Rush Order Fee
This is another easy problem to solve. If your customer needs an order quickly, charge a rush order fee.
Not sure what to charge? Read more about rush order fees. You should be charging a rush order fee. I’ve written an entire post on rush order fees and you can read it here.
Problem Customer: Gives You Complete Creative Freedom to Make Whatever You Want
Solution: Ask for Inspiration Photos
While this doesn’t seem like a problem, it can be difficult (and time consuming) to create a design when a customer gives you complete freedom to make all the choices.
Ask your customer to send you photos to give you an idea of what they are looking for. Remember that it is not ethical to copy another business’ design exactly. Read more about crafting ethically.
Problem Customer: Leaves You Negative Feedback
Solution: Reach Out to Customer to Correct the Situation
In this case, at least you don’t have to deal with the customer anymore. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to please everyone 100% of the time – it’s just a fact of business.
If you can, reach out to the customer and correct the situation – if it is correctable. I’ve got tips for dealing with negative feedback.
Problem Customer: Doesn’t Pay for the Products You Made
Solution: Collect Payment Up Front
Unfortunately, this is the fault of you as the seller. You should never make an item before you have received payment for the item.
Write clear policies for your business and stick to them.
Problem Customer: Doesn’t Show Up to Pick Up Items
Solution: Ship the Order
I’ll assume that the customer already paid, because you should never make a product without the customer paying for it upfront.
I give my local pickup customers two chances to pick up the item. If the customer doesn’t pick up the item in that timeframe, I offer to ship it to them at their expense. After I have received their shipping payment, I ship it to them.
If they don’t ever pay shipping costs, I will resell the item or donate it to a good cause. You can read more of my local pickup policies.
As you can see, clear policies in your business can help you prevent a lot of customer problems that may arise.
Since 2015, Christine Schinagl has been helping crafters start and run craft businesses through her blog, Cutting for Business. As a Silhouette and Cricut crafter herself, she has a unique take on what works and what doesn’t work in the craft business world. She also teaches a course on creating digital SVG designs, available at How to Design SVGs.
John in Philly
Thursday 1st of October 2015
Great advice, it sounds like some things were learned the hard way. I will put my stubborn streak to one side and profit from your advice. (yes, a deliberate play on words!)
Thursday 1st of October 2015
Hi John! Yes, most of those were slow lessons picked up throughout the years! Love the play on words! Christine