Why The Customer Is Always Right Even When They're Wrong
"The customer is always right". It might make your eyes roll but as a Professional Makeup Artist and business owner, this is your bread and butter motto.
I'd like to share my experience at a well known makeup brand, and what I learned about customer service.
Give Your Customers A Discount To Get Them Hooked
Last week, just before IMATS, I was invited to the headquarters of this prestigious makeup brand. Along with a live demo, we were each given a 40% off voucher to spend at the new store.
This was such a generous gift because you cannot get a 40% off voucher from this brand unless you're very senior in the makeup industry.
So, off I toddled to their new store to redeem my voucher.
Anticipate Your Customers Needs And Up-Sell Them Related Products
When I got to the store, I was hot, humid and my blood sugar was low. Dangerous combinations when going shopping. This location is over an hour away from me, so I was determined to press on.
The store itself is tiny and very constricted. If there are literally more than 3 people around, you'll start to get hot and stuffy. This is a great way for the staff to up-sell you products you don't necessarily need but feel obliged into buying because there's literally nowhere to hide.
I explained about my voucher and the makeup artist tried to up-sell me multiple products which I promptly added to my list. I went in there with a plan and a budget which frankly got thrown out of the window because I felt like they were a lot more knowledgeable and authoritative than me.
Exude Authority and Trust To Ensure Customers Buy From You
The makeup artist started suggesting so many products that were outside my budget that I was starting to get confused and dizzy. It was incredibly hot in that room and I started sweating, so I asked to be colour matched to the new foundation range they had for myself.
During this process they took off my makeup and colour matched me to the shade I thought I was in their lighting. But then she suggested that product wasn't right for me, as my skin was so dehydrated, and I would be better off with a different product in the exact same shade.
Note, she never tried this product on my face, and I trusted her judgement and authority to buy it without testing it on myself. NEVER EVER DO THAT. Always, always test the product in a different light. Go outside in natural daylight, walk around and see how you feel after an hour or so. Trust me, you might feel completely different as I found out to my woe.
Be Prepared To Refund If The Customer Is Not Happy
Cue to when I tried out this foundation straight before an interview and it was like I'd been sitting in the sun for weeks. I was literally 2 shades darker. Now, I don't want to get into a debate about this, but I find this is a HUGE problem for women of colour. I've never found a foundation that suits me right when I've been colour matched except my beloved Clinique one. She gave me a sample and I was able to test it out and I loved it so much I went and bought it, and I've been loyal to the brand ever since.
So, anyway, I went to my interview with this awful foundation on, which I tried my best to work with and even put powder on it to try and lighten it, but my face looked like a bad self-tan gone wrong! I was so annoyed with myself for buying a foundation that didn't match me. Even at 40% discount, it was an expensive mistake.
After ringing their customer service and checking on the receipt, I was told I could get a refund in-store. I went all the way back to the store and was met with stone-walling and a refusal for a refund. The suggestion was, that I should just use it in my kit for clients.
I really wanted to scream at this point.
The Customer Is Always Right
Finally, the manager came up and it turned out to be the lady who'd sold me the dodgy foundation in the first place. I explained my predicament again and told her that technically since she hadn't colour matched that particular foundation to me, I was within my rights to request a refund for a product that was mis-sold to me.
She could see I was getting wound up and could potentially cause a scene and took me downstairs. She re-colour matched me with a lighter foundation and very kindly re-did my base makeup. I was then refunded for my foundation, but they didn't have the foundation in the new shade in stock.
I was refunded the price I originally paid for the product, they wrote down all the shades used in the new makeover and off I went victorious, but exhausted. I hate confrontation of any kind, but sometimes you have to be assertive to get what you want.
At the end of the day, my relationship with that brand is now soured. I will use the products I've bought from them for my professional kit, but I will not be loyal to them any longer. I will not espouse them as a brand to buy from. The whole experience has left me a bit disillusioned and for a brand that espouses customer service, this experience should never have happened. If the customer tells you they are not happy, the brand should do their utmost to make their customer happy.
Learn From It and Move On
It might be in a few weeks I'll cool down, but honestly, I will never buy foundations or base products from this brand ever again.
Once you've tainted the relationship with your customer, you can never ever win back their loyalty. Most customers will never tell you what you did wrong and will make excuses to not contact you again. Learn from this situation and move on.
Always do your best, and go above and beyond to placate an unhappy customer. You only really learn good customer services from bad experiences. Learn from this experience and remember, no matter what, the customer is always right even when they're wrong :P.