During the process of ordering, supplying, and receiving dance costumes, mistakes can happen. Costume company mistakes are a dance studio owner’s nightmare and, even if you haven’t lived through a big costume emergency, you’ve heard the horror stories.
Problems with your costume company order need to be dealt with in a hearbeat and that means working with customer service to get the best possible resolution and outcome.
Here are some tips on how you can get better customer service when calling a dance costume company:
Before An Emergency Exists
Most studios order from multiple companies. It is easy to make mistakes or misread catalogs, and information can get lost in the confusion of preparing other aspects of a performance.
Keep excellent records for each costume ordered.
Don’t wait until something goes wrong to make sure you have all the documentation needed to support your case.
Dealing With Customer Service
Gather your information and know what you need before you call.
Get your records together. Review the company’s policies on their website or in the catalog. Prepare your questions and think about what types of resolution you would be willing to accept. Do it before you dial.
Plan to take notes or even record the call (and let the rep know you are doing so).
Be casual about this. The call may be recorded by the company already, but reminding the representative that you are being thorough and keeping a record is likely to improve service. Plus, you’ll want to remember what is discussed in case the issue cannot be resolved immediately or if problems continue.
Repeat back what you hear.
To make sure there are no misunderstandings, use active listening skills and “reflect” what the representative is communicating. This means repeating and/or restating what the rep tells you in order to clarify their meaning or instructions. Customer service employees are often trained in these methods but it works both ways.
Be patient, calm, and polite.
It’s true that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” but there’s squeaky, and then there’s downright unpleasant and offensive. Think about the times when someone, a parent perhaps, calls you spewing nothing but nastiness and negativity. With your defenses immediately up, would you do all you could to help this person? Probably not. You can be patient, calm, polite AND be firm in standing up for your case.
You may be stressed. Your own students and customers are counting on you to do everything you can to make things right. Having your students look their best at your show is important to you. Don’t take the mistake personally. But do get personal…
Operate on a first-name basis.
Use the customer service representative’s name. Write it down.
Though it’s often better to stay on the line until the matter is resolved, if a costume company is large enough to have multiple representatives, occasionally you may have better luck with someone else.
If emotions are on the rise, plan something to say that will defuse the situation. I love this line from Boston.com: “I understand that’s your policy, but I still need your help. Let’s start over.”
Remind the rep you are human, too.
More great advice from Boston.com is to turn the tables and remind the rep of your humanity. “What would you do if you were in my shoes?”
Escalate to a higher authority.
Ask to talk to a supervisor, manager, or even higher on the chain of command if things are not being satisfactorily resolved.
Try multiple channels.
Calling is not your only option. When resolution isn’t happening down one route, try another. Perhaps the costume company website has a live chat. Write a letter to the owner. Reach out to the company via their social networking profiles. Maybe even chat up a competitor and ask what they would do in a similar situation – nothing like a little competitor pressure to get things done.
Reward Good Customer Service
When your problem is handled promptly and the costume company provides great customer service, don’t forget to thank them with your repeat business. In addition, use those same channels listed above to publicly acknowledge a job well done.
Though there are no guarantees in life or in dance, good customers do tend to receive good customer service.
Have you witnessed the turn-around of what could have been a scary costume experience?
We don’t need to name names, but we’d love to hear about how you dealt with customer service in the comments!
Photo “Groundlings Spooky Groombridge” by THOR s licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.