• Category Archives Customer Service
  • For Artists » The Business Side of Art » Customer Service
  • Taking Responsibilty

    Sometimes, things go wrong.

    When dealing with any kind of business, whether its selling art or selling hamburgers, sometimes things go wrong.  Sometimes its because you, the business owner, make a mistake.  Sometimes it is due to somebody else’s carelessness.  Whatever the cause, when things go wrong in a way that damages relationships with customers, the business owner should take responsibility for making it right.

    with any kind of business, whether its selling art or selling hamburgers, sometimes things go wrong. Click To Tweet

    Its not always your fault when things go wrong.

    Sometimes, the problem is something completely out of your control, but you still have to do you best to make it right.  Such was the case back in February when a customer ordered an archival print from my etsy shop.

    Archival prints take longer, but this was ridiculous.

    The customer had ordered the Archival print, and those always take longer than a standard print because I can get a standard print made locally and in most cases get it in the mail the day after the order is placed, but with an archival print, I have to order from a print shop that specializes in fine art archival prints and then wait for them to mail the print to me before I can mail it to the customer.  Usually that means it is in the mail on the way to the customer within one and a half weeks, possibly two, and almost always in the customers hands before 3 weeks has passed.

    This time, the customer placed the order on February 11, and it didn’t make it in the mail to the customer until March 22, and I felt just awful, even though there was nothing I could have done to prevent this.


    What took this print so long?

    Well here’s what happened.  As usual I placed the order for the print the day the order was placed by the customer.  Then I waited.  A week passed, I wondered why I didn’t have it yet, but didn’t worry too much yet.  Then another week passed and I was really wondering, I checked with the printer to see if they had shipped it, and saw that it had shipped two days after I ordered it.  Another week passed, and still no sign of the print, another week went by and I decided to order another from a different printer, while I was still trying to track down this package.  I contacted the first printer and asked for tracking information, and then looked online at the post office site to see where it was in transit, and saw that it said it had been delivered almost two weeks previously when I wasn’t home.  The notation said it was left on my front porch.

    I was baffled.  I went outside and looked around.  No sign of a package or envelope anywhere on the front porch.  I started walking my property, I live on acreage so there was a lot of ground to cover, and finally, I found a wet and torn envelope very far away from house. I opened it, and sure enough, this is what I found:


    damaged fine art print
    The way the post office got my print to me

    The second printer got the print to me fairly quickly, and I got the print in the mail to my customer as quickly as I could after I received it myself, but by then my customer had already been waiting more than 5 weeks.  Now, I had sent messages to the customer during all of this to keep them updated as to why this order was taking so long, but I still felt that I needed to do something to make it up to them.

    I did all I could to make it right with the customer.

    So I included a few free printed greeting cards of my art, and a coupon code that would basically allow them order another print free. I also wrote the customer an apology and full explanation and put that in with print, in case they hadn’t seen my messages.

    The customer never did use the coupon code, but I hope at least they saw that I had made an effort to make up for the long wait.

    Now, I didn’t make any money on this sale at all, in fact, it cost me money, because I had paid for two prints, plus the greeting cards, paid to have both prints shipped to me, and paid to ship the good print to the customer, but I would rather lose the money than have a customer think my etsy shop “doesn’t care about the customer”.

    I would rather lose money than have a customer think I don't care about them. Click To Tweet

    Not every business treats their customers that well.

    Unfortunately, not every business tries that hard to keep their customers happy.  Remember that first printer?  I called them letting them know that the package had arrived damaged, and they promised to send me a new print free of charge, but I never received it.  According to the tracking information on THAT package, it was delivered to the post office, and then “reclaimed by sender” a day later at the same post office.  In other words, they changed their mind.

    Well, I don’t blame them for not wanting to send a print when it wasn’t their fault the first was damaged, but still, more than a print was damaged.  By not doing as they promised, they lost my business forever.  I will never order prints from them again.  I will instead order from the second printer in the story above.  If that first printer had simply said they were sorry, but couldn’t help me, I might have understood, but no, they told me on the phone, “Sure, we’ll send you another print!” and then they didn’t do it.
    For that they’ve lost a customer forever, one who before that had recommended them to others, and had spent a considerable amount of money with them, one who will likely continue needing prints on regular basis for years to come, but who will now go elsewhere for those prints.

    By not doing as they promised, they lost my business forever. I will never order prints from them again Click To Tweet