I’m going to take a slightly different position than my peers on
this one (much to everyone’s surprise I’m sure).
The customer is always right. Even when the customer is clearly
wrong, the customer is always right. How many times have you heard
that? Really successful retailers in every line of business live this
way, every day and in every single transaction. That’s how and why
they become really successful.
Here’s what I would do. I would repair the damage as well as
possible, including remaking the piece if that’s what it takes. I
would do so at no charge, and I would smile while doing it. I would
also hold it until she pays me in full. She has to hold up her end of
the bargain. But however that conversation goes, I would never lose
my smile. Sam Walton (founder of Wal-Mart, the largest, most
successful retailer in human history, and not by accident) said “Lose
your smile, lose your customer”. Never have truer words been spoken.
It’s really hard to get angry at someone if the person you want to
get angry at is smiling. Smiles are contagious, spread the disease!
You made her father cry. How much success in your craft do you want?
There is no higher compliment a craftsman can get than to make a
grown man cry at the beauty of their work.
I have to add I don't want her as a future client.
I have to ask you to reconsider. Your hardest clients can become your
very best clients, and can bring you far more business than you could
ever imagine. The thought process in her friends’ minds is this - “if
she can make HER happy, she can make ANYONE happy”. I have never had
a client that I wouldn’t want to sell to again (except for maybe
those that write bad checks, but they don’t come back anyway). Their
money spends just as well as the easiest customer’s does and the
taste of success with such folks is so much sweeter. Anyone can make
the easy clients happy, but the hard ones take the efforts of someone
of a much higher caliber. If you don’t, can’t or won’t do it, someone
else eventually will and will have them forever (and their friends,
their family and everyone else they know, guess what they’re going to
be saying about you while they’re singing the praises of your
Those clients that have family members cry because of a piece I made
for them I would never, ever want to lose. And I will do absolutely
anything and everything possible to keep them. That is the very best
advertising there is. You can’t buy that kind of press for any amount
of money. You already have her respect as a craftsman (you made her
Dad cry), you now have to earn her respect as a business woman. Three
quarters of the battle has already been won. You have a tremendous
opportunity to really shine here. Or you can decide to be just
another talented metalsmith in a world full of talented metalsmiths.
It really all depends on what your long term objectives are. If you
have all the work you want and don’t really need to make any more
money than you are already making, you can afford to make the kind of
decision that goes something like - “heck with her, I don’t care if I
ever see her again”. On the other hand, if you are like me, every
sale, every dollar, every customer and every piece of jewelry is
incredibly important. If that is the case, do what ever you have to
to make her happy. I promise, it will come back to you.
Some people call it Karma. I call it customer service.