I know a lot of business owners will disagree with me, but I don’t want everyone that walks through my front door or calls me on the phone to be my customer. And, I don’t agree with that age old saying, “The customer is always right.” I’ve been doing this jewelry thing for 35 years. I’d like to think I know a little more about it than my customers and I’m always right. But, what do you do about the troublemakers?
You know who I’m talking about. That one customer that as you see them getting out of their car, you get that horrible feeling of dread. That one customer that as soon as your staff sees them walking towards the door they suddenly have something more important to do in the back. Yeah, you know who I’m talking about.
When I was in jewelry school (a big shout-out to my peeps from the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology) they told us, “If you do a wonderful job, your customer may tell a friend, but do a bad job, and they will tell everyone.”
I wholeheartedly agree with this theory. But honestly, some customers are just more trouble than they are worth. And it usually starts like this…
“I used to go to that jewelry store down the street but they’ve switched my diamonds a couple of times and I won’t go back there again.”
Of course what this person doesn’t know is that the jeweler down the street is married to your cousin and is a good friend of yours and would never think about switching a diamond in a ring. Heck, since I’m looking at her diamond, the only thing I could do is switch it for a better one, cause this one is terrible.
Pretty much, when these type of people come in, I try my best to get rid of them as fast as humanly possible. I just really don’t need that kind of aggravation in my life. Think about it, if they’re accusing your buddy down the street of something you know he didn’t do, it’s a sure bet that they are gonna do it to you too. And in all honesty, I’d much rather be accused of being a jerk than be accused of being a thief.
There are just some people out there in the world that leave a trail of destruction everywhere they go. I go out of my way to avoid these people, both personally and professionally. Just because they stumbled into my store doesn’t mean I want them in my life.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve got more than my share of difficult customers that I go out of my way to please. But usually it’s because they actually spend money with me, which makes them a little easier to be around. That and I’ve tried and tried to get rid of them and they just won’t leave.
Sometimes these people introduce themselves to you by saying, “I need you to size my ring, but I won’t let it out of my sight and I’m going to go in the back with you and watch you do the work.”
I’ll always ask why, and the answer is always the same… “I want to make sure you don’t switch my diamonds.”
I always just say, “no thank you,” hand them back their ring and thank them for coming in. Granted, these types of customers are really only about one in a thousand, but I’d rather concentrate my energy on the customers that I know I can please and let this one go ruin someone else’s day. My store has been in business since 1947 and tens of thousands of people have managed to trust us and like us through the years. I’d rather go out of my way to please those people.
Oh, and the reason you can’t come back in my shop to watch me size your ring is because there’s jewelry lying all over the place back there and I think you’ll try to steal something from me. There’s a reason we have locks on our showcases out front. They are there to keep you from trying to switch a diamond on me!
And just today I had a lady come in the store complaining about a competitor for thinning out her ring when she took it to them for sizing. I asked her what made her think that. She told me they purposely ground down the shank on her ring to steal the gold because it was so thin now. I assured her that the other store would never do that and she should continue to shop with them. I went on and on about how trustworthy they were and her 10K mystic topaz ring that she bought on her favorite shop from home network was just fine because I’ve sized several of them through the years and she had nothing to worry about.
Of course I didn’t bother to tell her that I do all the sizing for the other store and I personally sized her ring and I remember thinking about what a piece of crap it was while I was doing it. And, I’d much rather she continue to shop with them because I already don’t like her. Now if I could just make her not like me!
And, if they try to start your relationship with the words, “I’ve taken a jewelry class….”
Like I said, they all introduce themselves in much the same fashion, so you can’t say you weren’t warned when it all goes downhill every time they come in. You’ve just got to learn to read the warning signs.
Now get out there and take care of the ones that really make you money and make you happy - which is most of our customers - and let someone else have the headaches.
Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide.