The Good, the Bad, and the Embarrassing
Last week I dove deep into the heart of my business and listed my ten core values for Kitty Meow. If you recall, the first core value was Exceptional Customer Service. From Day 1, GREAT customer service was always a priority to me. Treating people how I want to be treated seemed like a no brainer. I try to always follow up with customers and encourage them to leave an honest review.
I remember the first time I got a less than 5 out of 5 star review in my Etsy shop. I was seriously devastated and probably, no definitely, cried about it. I had a bride reach out about my wine themed wedding invitation and quoted her accordingly. When she went to actually order, about 6 months later, I had raised my prices in my shop. She expressed her displeasure about it and it got to me. I'm a people pleaser, so I honored the original quote, even though I didn't feel great about it. Not telling my customer in advance, I stamped the back of the invites with a gold Kitty Meow logo. I didn't tell customers in advance but this was just something I was doing standard. Kind of how if you order from all the big box stationery stores like Minted or Shutterfly.
Well, when she got the invitations she was not very happy about it. She publicly left my shop a 3 star review and I felt like a big ol' loser. I offered to redo the invites for a discounted rate. They were hand made and there were 100 of them so I didn't want to redo them for free (I don't even make invitations like this anymore because they're too time consuming)! She said she was going to purchase a sticker to go over my logo. Ugh...that looked really great, I'm sure. Lesson learned. I put it in my public shop policies that invites will have my logo on the back unless they politely ask me not to.
It wasn't until I started planning my own wedding that I was able to put things into perspective. Now when it comes to wedding invitations I don't even try to sneak my logo in there. EVER. In retrospect, my previous bride was right. You order custom invites and you want it to be about your big day. Not about some company’s big ol' logo on the back. Gross! Jen, if you're reading this...I'm truly, TRULY sorry.
After I got over my tears, I took this experience as an opportunity to learn and improve. Not to toot my own horn, but I have 1,299 reviews in my Etsy Shop, and 95% of them are 5 star reviews. While I strive for a 5 Star Kitty Meow experience with my customers I've also come to realize that you just can't please everyone. Every once in a while some will complain about something totally random. When I reach out to them to make it better they don't respond. At that point I shake it off, and move forward.
Another aspect of customer service that really left an impression on me while wedding planning was the way other vendors responded to my inquires. Think about it...you're newly engaged and so freaking excited to start planning your heart out! You reach out to a vendor whether it's for flowers, a venue, catering, photography, whatever. Sometimes you get an on point response but lots of times you get a lackluster, impersonal, probably copy and pasted generic email back. Sorry Charlie. I don't think so. That doesn't make me excited about doing business with you. If your JOB is to make cakes but you can't get me excited about the cakes you make, then you aren't the vendor for me. I was really surprised at how these uninspired responses where the norm.
I was not going to let that boring, unenthusiastic person be me. I'm a real person and my customers are real people too. I care about their happiness, and I want them to feel so excited about ordering with me. Brides spend A LOT of freaking money on their wedding day. I want them to feel spectacular about spending their hard earned cash with me on invitations. I tell most potential customers that I'm not the least expensive option. I can't compete with the prices of the big box stores and I'm not trying to. That's not what Kitty Meow is about. I will however, offer them an exceptional product and fantastic customer service. That statement alone usually wins them over. If it doesn't, we just weren't the right fit for each other. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
When a bride, or any customer, reaches out for invitations I always congratulate them or find another way to connect with them. “Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I truly hope you are enjoying this very exciting time in your life. It goes by so fast so I hope you're taking it all in.” Or… “Congratulations on the first birthday of your sweet little boy! My daughter is about to turn 1 as well. It's been the best year of my life!” I want to connect with them and for them to feel special, in a totally genuine way. Because they are! Your business is, and should be, putting yourself out there and making relationships with people.
Sometimes it's hard to learn the lessons, but it's ALWAYS better when you do. I surely don't have all the answers, and I'm learning as I go. What do you do to make your customers or other people in your life feel special? I'm always looking for ways to switch it up and would LOVE your feedback!