Customer Service

Dear Anonymous Jessie

I recently had this comment anonymously left in my blog and I thought I would do this “Jessie” a favor and give a real reply. If ANY of you ever have questions about my products, please please please feel free to ask away! I stand by what I make. I have no reason to hide anything that I do.

I am so very sorry if I have given anyone the impression that I have mislead them.

On a personal note, I 110% respect the viewpoints of EVERYONE. I may not agree with them, I may not believe the same things you do, but I still respect the fact that they are YOUR choices and ideas. All I ask it that we all try to be polite and respectful. If you are going to slander a person or company, at least have the guts to not be an anon about it. I mean really, how strong are your convictions if you can’t even admit they are yours?

Anonymous said…

“complete open door policy”

Regarding that, I just received my first shipment from you in the past month and noticed a card that says you are “green” and environmentally friendly but then i went to follow you on twitter. To my surprise you eat meat, which even “grassfed” cows are still the worst thing you can do for the environment. You can’t be a environmentalist and a meat eater according to the UN. So I just found that a bit misleading. Maybe you are only referring to your products but it’s not clear.

However, I noticed most of your soaps contain palm oil, which is horrible for the environment and locals health as well. I know how great “labels” can be to make profits but in all honesty it’s not fair to mislead the consumer who may not be aware of the damage such ingredients cause.

Also as a fellow Etsy craft maker, it concerns me that you use trademark logos for your soaps which is not legal or fair. Not only to the companies that created that art but to other members who are trying to make an honest living.

Thanks for reading. Hope you consider these issues in the future.

-Jessie
October 22, 2011 1:02 PM

Dear Anon Jessie,

Yes, the open door policy is for real! You raised several points, so I’ll do my best to address them one by one.First – unless you’re a vegetarian who is eating only vegetables you’ve grown yourself on a solar-powered farm, with crops fertilized by the wastes from your own animals (and thus subject to bio-contamination), you’re carbon footprint is likely almost as large as any meat-eaters — and if you like your seasonal items like oranges or avocados year-round, it might even be bigger. Yes, I know meat is a resource intensive source of nutrition, but if you’re eating vegetables grown in the Big Agri US-style farming environment or even worse – US-style agricultural products grown abroad and shipped here, that’s pretty resource intensive as well — petroleum products play a huge role in everything from transportation and harvesting fuel to fertilizer and power for irrigation, and huge monoculture farms require more irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides. So the issue, from an environmentalist’s standpoint, about beef=bad, vegetables=good is not really so clear-cut as you put forward. From an ethical standpoint, I do believe animals should suffer as little harm as possible and there is a lot of room for improvement in this area. I would also point out though that while humans can survive on vegetables alone, we evolved to be omnivores, and while you may disagree with my choice to eat meat, I believe that doing so in moderation is responsible from a nutritional, ethical, and environmental standpoint.

Secondly – regarding palm oil. Yes, many palm oil harvesting operations have very bad direct and indirect consequences for the environment. However, in and of itself, palm oil is a great natural product that requires much less chemical- / energy-intensive processing than other types of oil, say soy for example. As a responsible environmentalist, you have to go beyond scanning headlines and do the detailed research necessary to understand the effects your choices have — not just at a single point, but through a product’s entire production, use, and disposal cycle. In this case, I purchase palm oil that is not only certified organic, but certified to have been responsibly and sustainably grown. I spend more money on these base ingredients and yet have to keep my prices competitive, so if profits were truly my driving force, I wouldn’t go through this charade. I’d just buy the cheap stuff and charge the same price as my competitors and I’d be earning more money immediately.

Which makes a great transition to be able to talk about something that I believe is at the core of my business: integrity. I didn’t start making soap because I wanted to make money, I started because my son needed something pure enough that his very sensitive skin wouldn’t over-react to it. And I continue to make soap because it’s something I have a passion for — from the ingredients I put into the soap, to the care and attention that goes into crafting my own molds and making my soap, to how I advertise and sell it — it all comes down to integrity. And I think, compared with many other crafters, that integrity can be seen in every single product I make. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been presented with a choice pitting integrity against profit — I ALWAYS choose integrity.

Lastly, I feel I must take exception to your phrasing “to other members who are trying to make an honest living” — I’m happy to explain my choices regarding the environmental impact of my products, after all I have links on every product page of my site which answer the questions you presented, and I still took the time to reply. But when you imply that *I* am making a dishonest living, I believe that crosses a line. However, I will tell you that you seem to be laboring under a seriously mistaken viewpoint regarding intellectual property, what exactly a trademark is, and what the concept of “fair use” provides for. None of the stuff I reference in my soap is really “trademarked” per se. People always get confused about this. There are intellectual property rights involved, but within the confines of the law, there is fair use and my products are always truthfully presented as the interpretations of a huge fan that in no way presents a threat to the rights of the owners of the intellectual property rights. I have been bullied into no longer selling some products by companies that have more time, money, and lawyers than I do, but I would not sell ANY product that was not honestly represented as what it really is and that I had the right to make.

Thank you for your comments and I hope you feel that I have given them the time and attention they deserved. My door remains open to you and anyone else who has questions and I wish you the best of luck making a living, honest or otherwise, as a crafter. I’ve been doing it for more than six years and have been blessed with opportunities, but I understand it can be a very difficult business for some who aren’t suited to its demands.

♥ Kylee

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Customer Service

As a shopper, the most important factor to me, aside from product quality, is customer service. I will spend more of my hard-earned monies for good service. (Yes, I am the jerk who will not tip my waiter unless my glass stays full. However, I will tip triple for good service. )

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends.
If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.

-Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com

Think about that for just a second. Customer service (henceforth “CS” because I’m cool like that) can either grow or completely destroy a business. You would think the chances of crossing bad CS would never happen…but it does. Especially online, where it is so easy to ignore our customers.

Fun personal facts about me: I have obsessive compulsive disorder, severe anxiety, paranoia and minor hallucinations. I’m so anxious I can’t even talk on the phone. My voice mail is full so people can’t leave a message. I hate getting dressed. I have to have strangers take care of me when I travel.

So how in the hell do I have a growing business with supreme customer service and a record for over five years now of 100% positive feedback?

Honesty.

Yup. That is pretty much it. Well that, and the fact that I actually care about what I do.

I just asked on twitter:
Hey everyone! I am writing a blog about customer service….what does CS mean to YOU?! I would like to feature some of your quotes!

Replies! (A good sign, and proof, CS DOES mean something to people…)

CS is having it successfully explained to me politely that what I DON’T want IS best for me.” –@WilliamPall

I like this. When I worked in retail I would be candidly honest with customers. It’s true. Don’t ever try to sell something to someone when it is not in THEIR best interest.

CS is supposed to be about the customer. But these days if you do get anywhere, it’s like the company’s doing you a favor.” –@JoeShopping

Attitude. If someone is spending their money, investing in your business, you are NOT doing them a favor by giving great CS. You are doing your JOB.

Customer service is ‘The customer may not always be right but they are listened to and appreciated.’” –@vadersmom

The saying ‘the customer is always right,’ is wrong. This sounds harsh, but it is true. However, you bend over backwards to LISTEN to your customer. You give that customer 110% of your time AND understanding. Next, you appreciate your customer for even coming to you with a problem.

Which leads wonderfully into this next one…

Empathy and sharing the responsibility of a negative experience of their product or service.” –@MrDystopia

I’m going to repeat from above, you have got to listen to your customer. It is hard not taking it personally when someone comes to you with a bad experience, especially if they have a problem with something you made.

I mentioned my company has had 100% positive feedback. This does not mean that I have never had a problem. As my business has grown, I routinely deal with customers who may have been overlooked or received damaged or unsatisfactory products. I am only human. I do make mistakes. What matters is how I deal with these mistakes.

I am always happy to resolve, refund & replace.” The Luxury Lane Soap Guarantee

Me. Kylee Lane. I take responsibility for what I create and sale and I examine each and every situation individually. THAT’S what I expect out of every business I do, well, business with.

Now you can only sit here and read about how wonderful I am for so long, so I guess it would be a good time for me to make my point…

If you are a business owner, whether a small crafter or a large corporation, shut up and listen to your customers. Treat every person who crosses your path with respect and be honest. If you can’t get an order out, or meet a deadline, be honest about it. That doesn’t mean making excuses to buy yourself some time; it means you tell people what is going on. If you don’t have passion for what you create, find a different job or simply make something else YOU LOVE.

After hounding @terrence_oleary for a quote, he indeed sums everything up wonderfully… “Customer Service – most important part of ANY business – so vital to exceed customer expectations – anticipate issues and be proactive…”

Big thanks and hugs to everyone who helped put this post together! ♥ Please feel free to share your CS experiences below. How could companies improve their services? What would you like to see business do for YOU?

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