Saturday, January 8, 2011

An Open Letter to GlitterSniffer

Yesterday during the Q&A on the Facebook page (Which I am still working on editing-the screenshots need to have PII removed prior to publishing, and there are 400+ posts to edit and proof) Lela posed a question: Can I fix this?

I answered her on the thread, but I wanted to expound upon those thoughts. Please indulge me as I answer in an Open Letter to GlitterSniffer.

Lela,
You asked yesterday what you can do to fix this. I advised that there was nothing you could do that would recover my business, but, as a consumer, I do have some suggestions for you.

-When you say it, mean it. If you’ve promised something, stand by it. That includes your products, your policies, and your company values. People are more inclined to trust a company that admits their faults, takes responsibility without excuses and fixes issues. That means following up on emails and commitments, shipping out in a timely manner, shipping products as described, and ensuring quality and safe products across the board.

-Be transparent. All information regarding products and policies should be posted on the site and readily available for all. If a question is not answered on the site and you receive an email or Facebook post about it, respond within 24 hours. If a question is asked repeatedly via email or Facebook posts revise your FAQ to include it. The public’s trust in you has been harmed, and if you wish to recover that trust you must be as forthcoming as possible. Be detailed in all information. People should not have to ask for clarification. If someone asks a question that has already been answered respectfully direct them to the proper information.  Ask that the fans of your page do so as well. If you post something to the Facebook page or site, leave it up. Even if the information has changed you still have the ability to edit it. If you do edit it ensure that you note what has been edited and on what date. This will go a long way in restoring trust.

-It’s business, not personal. One of the overarching things that I have noticed as I’ve been involved with this situation is that you have an amazing ability to build brand loyalty. This is due in no small part to your role as the face of GS Cosmetics. That being said, when someone has a complaint it is incumbent upon you, as a business owner, to separate yourself from that complaint. It’s not an attack against you personally. Yes, some of the vitriol may take the form of a personal attack, but that is to be expected when you make yourself so readily available as the spokesperson. What it comes down to is the fact that you must maintain a professional manner in all business communications. People are your customers, not your friends. I commend the fact that you do seem to care very deeply for some of your customers, but that should not influence your business decisions. And if someone does attack you personally, deal professionally with the issue, resolve the matter, and then enact your right as a business owner to refuse service once the issue is resolved. Banning people from the fan page and not responding in a timely manner to complaints does nothing but breed hostility. Be open to communication, both good and bad, and use that feedback to better your business. I guarantee you that if you are open the negativity that you do not wish to have posted to your page will drop by tenfold as the issues will be addressed privately and to the customers satisfaction.

-Follow all FDA/Postal guidelines for any product produced by GS Cosmetics. This includes labeling, ingredients, shipping times, and safety and recall procedures. By now you should be fully versed in what those guidelines are. To be sure, you should have known them prior to selling your products. Whether you knew them previously or not is of no importance, as the FDA guidelines state that you are responsible for them whether you knew them or not. There is no question that you are fully aware of the expectations now. Implement them. Follow them. Live by them. Check the FDA website on a weekly basis to see what, if any, changes have been made and then act immediately to address them.

-Accept returns. Not every product will work for every person. If someone is dissatisfied with a product, issue store credit. Better yet, send them a replacement product as a gesture of good will. With your ability to inspire your fans I sincerely doubt you will have all that much profit loss in implementing this, and it shows that you are more than willing to work with your customers, which in turn will make them loyal to your company. There is nothing that stops you from accepting a return “due to the nature of your product”. In fact, the FDA states that products should be returned, especially in a recall situation, when requesting a refund or replacement. If you don’t want a used product being sent back to you, then issue a credit or replacement and move on.

-Keep what is private, private. Everyone has bad days. We are only human. But those issues should be kept strictly to your own personal page and not aired out for the world to see. If you have a personal issue that is impeding business announce that you are not accepting orders for the time being, give a timeline for when outstanding orders will be shipped out (and stick to it), fix your personal business, and then reopen when you are capable of meeting the demand. Your reasons for ceasing operations are your own, and as long as you give a clear indication of what your customers can expect then you have met your burden as a business owner.

I hope that these suggestions are helpful to you. They are only meant to be constructive and are presented here as they were solicited by you. Use them or disregard them at your discretion.

I appreciate that you took the time to visit the page and answer questions, and I look forward to seeing you implement the behavior changes you have promised. I do wish you luck going forward.
GlitterSniffer Complaints

6 comments:

  1. Well Said. These are important points for every business person to keep in mind, whether you are a huge conglomerate or an indie seller.
    A person who has a good experience will tell on average 10 people, when they have a bad experience, that average shoots to 90. If you take the 5,260 fans on the page, and figure 50% of them have had a poor experience, that's 237,105 people they will turn away from your product.
    Poor experiences can be remedied, but they have to be remedied and not avoided. And you'll never satisfy everyone. And that's OK.
    I've had terrible experiences that would have driven me from a company, but they worked to fixed the issues and now I'm loyal to them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shyloh-So true. Anytime I've had an issue with a company I've contacted them and given them a chance to make it right. If they did, I was a repeat customer. If not, I moved on.

    Having been a small business owner myself I can speak from experience that a little customer service goes a long way. It's a bit more work, but it pays off in spades.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think all of these are some very helpful tips for GS and any person in any small or large business.
    Shylohgirl is right; bad experiences must be remediend not avoided or shied away from. I'd rather have my issues fixed than tried to be swept under the rug and when that happens I'm more like to tell others to STAY AWAY from this or that company than to recommend them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Megan- I agree. Addressing issues is far more conducive to repeat business than not addressing them. I understand and respect that they may be overwhelming at times, but as a business the commitment is to the customer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I thought this letter/post was so well worded and thought out. As a prior loyal GS customer, I can say that I fully agree with each point you made. I can only hope Lela will take your suggestions to heart.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amber- Thank you. As a former small business owner myself I know the pitfalls one can run into. It really is my sincere hope that GS will take the necessary steps to change. No one is saying they can't recover from this, but it's going to take a lot of commitment and hard work.

    ReplyDelete

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