Got grumpy customers? Here's how to handle them

December 17, 2012 

Shop Talk reporter Virginia Bridges spoke with small business owners at Northgate Mall in Durham about how they deal with grumpy customers.

•  “We just accommodate their wishes and kill them with kindness,” said Nancy Brown, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics, which has been in Brown’s family since 1960. “There are people who walk through our door every day who have so much going on. We get a lot of people from the medical center. …They need directions, somebody to talk to.”

•  “I just basically handle each customer the same way,” said Arkera Smith, owner of the Perfect Pair, a nearly 3-year-old shop with women’s clothes and accessories. “Same smile. Same politeness.”

•  “I like the grumpy customer. If you are nice to them, they are nice to you,” said Xiaming Xu, owner of the 1-year-old Save More, a shop with a little bit of everything, including art, toys and pictures. “If you are nice, they don’t punch the nice person.”

•  “If you keep talking to them, they will come around,” said Sarah Torian, co-owner of Sara’s Boutique, a 30-year-old business. “They will come in with something on their mind, something that may have happened earlier. You have to reach out to them, you know. Talk to them to see how you can smooth out their day.”

•  “With a smile or a little humor or a joke,” said Dan Moore, owner of Sports-Land, a seasonal business that sells area teams’ sports paraphernalia.

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