Customer Service: It Is Ok To Say No

Next in our customer service series is an important topic: Sometimes we need to say no. It is hard to do. I know. But it is incredibly important. There are many reasons to say no, and developing the ability to do so without guilt and in a professional way is essential for success.

I have invited Molly from Spearmint Spruce to share more on this important topic. I love how Molly handles her small business and her approach to customer service.

Take it away Molly...

As a maker, it is a constant struggle to find balance. To not overload yourself, but also to push and challenge yourself to grow. And who wants to turn down a chance to make some extra money? So I have comprised a little check list to help decide when you can (and probably should) say no! And a few examples to follow.

If you are saying yes to these questions, then it might be time to say no:

1. Will it take away too much time to be with your family and those around you?
2. Will it add unnecessary stress or anxiety to rob you of the joy of making?
3. Will it take more time to figure out than is worth your profit?
4. Do you already feel stretched too think or overloaded?

I know, this is supposed to be a blog post about saying no. However, if you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should absolutely say no to the request. It does not have to be a permanent no, but it should be a no for now. Let me explain a bit why it is important:

Every maker is different - some are students, some are mamas, some are part-time, full-time, any-time makers. Family and those you consider family, should never take a back seat to your business. This life is too short to spend all your time working (no matter how much you enjoy it!) and not enough time with family. The balance is hard, but oh man is it worth it.

If you take on more orders than you have time for, your quality will suffer...either the quality of your product or the quality of your life. If it stresses you out or adds anxiety - say no! You want to enjoy what you do, and if taking on too much robs you of that joy, then it is time to say no. Make notes of how much is too much and be diligent on sticking to that number. The number that still allows your success, but also your enjoyment.

So many times I get asked, "can you make this for me?" and usually the answer is yes. However, unless it is something fairly simple, then the amount of time it will take to figure out how to do it will significantly take away from my profit as well as my time to be working on my specialty items. For so long I was a "jack of all trades, master to none". Basically saying, I could do several things pretty well, but it wasn't until I truly found my niche that I could perfect my items and offer them with great pride. So yes, I can probably make that for you, but it isn't worth it at this point. I would rather point you in the direction of someone who specializes in that product! And we will all be the happier for it!

If you already feel like you have too much on your plate, chances are it is time to say no. If you are stretched too thin, you will break. And that extra order or collaboration will do you no good. Your sanity is more important than anything. The holidays are a time especially when we find it hard to say no. I am in the midst of still trying to remember that it is ok to say no. Even if it is a friend or family member, this is your business - something that you worked hard to build. It is ok to do what is right and healthy for you and your business!

I wish I could say I have arrived -  I have finally figured out how and when to say no every time. Alas, I have not. But I do know how to be more aware and to work harder to have boundaries of when to say yes and when to say no.

I hope you are encouraged to say no when you need to. Get rid of the guilt or that feeling of missed opportunity. You will see growth and success when you are more balanced and are enjoying what you are doing! Happy making, friends!

Customer Service & Handmade Business: 5 Things Every Small Business Owner Should Know and Do

CustomerPatternReview

The idea of taking our talents and passions to the next level and turning it into a business is incredibly exciting. The thought that people will want to actually PAY for what I / we create is one heck of a piece of awesome.  And the truth of it all is that happy customers spreading the word is what truly grows a small artisan business. Customer reviews matter!

But when we take that leap and find ourselves running a business it is essential that we take a beat and are prepared for some of the changes that will come. Sometimes talent isn't enough. Once we make the leap into a business it is essential to shift our mindset to be successful. Our art then becomes only part of the package. We must now center our focus on the customer experience.

This was a review from a customer who received the wrong item. The solution turned this customer experience into a win.

I recently had a horrible customer service experience with a small artisan business. Part of me was so frustrated as a customer I wanted to scream. It was in actuality one of the most horrible customer experiences I have ever had. But more importantly than that, part of me was sad & frustrated as a fellow artisan small business owner that this person and her business simply do not have the basics for a successful customer service program. And the worst part was that in the whole exchange she wasn't even open to feedback to see this.

In the case of my recent experience, this artisan was simply unprepared to handle an influx of business, meet delivery dates and couldn't deliver on promises she made. She lacked customer communication skills to solve problems. All of which are essential in customer service. Especially the communication.

This experience is what inspired me to want to do a Customer Service series and why I've invited a few of my favorite small business owners who I also think have exceptional customer service to share their perspective on winning customer service.

Over the series we will cover:
The Basics: 5 Things Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know
It's OK To Say No
Custom Orders & The Collaborative Experience
Turning Mistakes Into Rave Reviews

First up: Krista Cagle from the Yarn Mamas and the basics of what every small business needs to know and do.

Now, if you follow me on Social media then you know I am practically a walking billboard of advertisement for the Yarn Mamas gear. Yes, Krista curates and serves up top quality and fabulous offerings. Comfy cozy wear and coffee mugs that keep my creative vibes flowing. But way more than that, her customer service is beyond reproach if you ask me. Aside from products I love, it is the thing that keeps me coming back again and again. In an era where we have choices of where to spend our dollars, I prefer to spend mine with small businesses who put the customer experience first. Krista embodies that concept. I thought she would be the perfect person to kick this series off with the basics:

 
5 Things every Small Business Owner Should Know and Do

Customer service is an important part of every small business. Here are five of the top things that I have done to create a positive experience for my business and brand.

1. Ask for Help

My business YarnMamas is built under my franchise Rescued Paw Designs. When I first started I quickly realized how incredibly hard, time consuming and stressful it can be to run two small businesses simultaneously. I felt like I was being pulled in many directions and I knew that if I wanted to continue to bring the same quality product to my customers, something had to change. I learned an important lesson: Don’t try to run a small business all on your own, ask for help. Once I hired a Virtual Assistant I was able to focus more on the quality of my product, customer feedback and building designs, which improved my overall customer service satisfaction.

2. Engage Customers on Social Media

I make it a top priority to engage my customers on social media. It shows consumers that you care, that you’re listening, and that you want to be involved. When sharing others projects and posts you are creating a community around your brand.

 3. Respond Quickly to Questions

I make sure to respond quickly and promptly to customer questions and to always keep them informed of their orders. My customers are notified, via messenger & email, when their order is placed, shipped and delivered. This has helped tremendously with customer satisfaction. I also send a follow up email after the customer’s order has been delivered, asking for feedback. It is important to keep communication open between you and the customer. If there ever is a concern, I always make sure to rectify the issue so my customers will want to come back again.

4. Listen to Customers Ideas

I occasionally receive messages from my customers who are looking for a particular design or look. I always keep the feedback of my customers in mind when I’m designing my clothes. I want my customers to feel heard and also, I want to make my customers happy and coming back for more. So when running your small business, always brainstorm new ideas and listen to your customer ideas (they know what they want!).

5. Updated Email List

An easy, but important aspect to customer service is to keep up an updated email list of your customers. It’s as simple as putting an email signup form on your website (I use hello bar) or an opt in button on your checkout page asking if they would like to receive marketing. I use this email list to send important updates, new designs alerts and as a way to keep past/potential customers engaged in my business. People lead very busy lives and it’s important to keep customers interested and informed about your business so they keep coming back.

I LOVE Krista's approach to the basics. It is those fundamentals that have set her new business on track to soar. What is your Customer Service approach? Share in the comments below.

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