Handling customer complaints, dealing with irate, and sometimes, unreasonable patrons, is an important part of the jewellery retail business. Suneeta Kaul endeavours to find out how jewellers go about dealing with such difficult situations
No matter how much retailers pursue perfection, look into every detail, conduct quality checks, hire the best of people, there can still be customer complaints. It could be no fault of the jeweller, and yet s/he could end up facing complaints. It is part of the game, and jewellery retailers are used to the drill.
Dealing with customer complaints
Complaints can be of various kinds, depending on the kind of jewellery a retailer specialises in. Explains Abhishek Zaveri of the eponymously named company, Abhishek Zaveri, Ahmedabad, “The kind of complaints we get depends on the category of the jewellery. There will be a different set of issues, depending on whether it is kundan, gold, antique, jadau, or polki jewellery. But most of the times, issues arise because customers mishandle jewellery.”
Zaveri goes on to explain that at the time of buying jewellery, and trying it on in the showroom, customers are in a different mindset. They are relaxed, in no hurry, and they take their time and handle everything carefully.
“But when they are at home, getting ready for an occasion, they are often in a hurry, sometimes they are stressed, and they do not handle the jewellery carefully. So, some damages do occur, or some parts fall off. When they bring it to us, we calm them down and do the necessary repairs.
“When it comes to kundan and jadau, particularly, there are complaints of the colour of stones changing. This happens mostly because of the chemicals in cosmetics and perfumes coming in contact with the jewellery. But it is no big deal – we just polish the stones, and they are as good as new,” Zaveri adds.
Fewer issues with plain jewellery
When it comes to plain jewellery, there are far fewer complaints. At worst, a link of a gold chain may break, or the clasp may fall off. But studded jewellery is a different matter. Sachin Bhola, Jewellers Bhola, New Delhi, says, “We normally get complaints of stones falling off from studded jewellery pieces. We are very understanding and just replace the stone. Once, a customer came to us with a stone, it was a cat’s eye, and told us to put it in a ring. It was a damaged piece that he had purchased from somewhere. It had been treated and when we made the jewellery, the treatment wore off.
“The customer complained that we had damaged his stone, and demanded that we cover his loss. We had to compensate him for what he perceived as ‘damage’ to his stone. We did not want to offend him, as he was an old customer. But after that, we stopped making jewellery with stones customers bring to us, and that have not been purchased from us.”
Since jewellery is an emotional purchase, customers get very upset even if the damage to the piece they have bought is minor. Retailers have to handle irate customers tactfully, even if the fault is that of the customer. “We don’t want to offend our patrons,” says Dhruv Talwar, Talwarsons Jewellers, Chandigarh. “We just take their complaints in our stride. Normally, we don’t get complaints as our quality check is very strong. But yes, sometimes, a stone comes loose and falls off.
“Also, sometimes two rings rub against each other, and some minor damage happens, or a diamond falls off the prong. But more often than not, these things happen because customers do not take care of their jewellery the way they should. Then there is some minor damage that can happen because chemicals interact with the metal of the jewellery. No matter what it is, we simply look into it,” he adds.
Handling unreasonable customers
Handling complaints is sometimes more about dealing with the ego of the customers than the actual damage to jewellery. Vivek Agrawal, Alankar Jewellers, Jabalpur, MP, shares his insights. “We handle customer complaints seriously and with the outmost urgency. This approach helps us to satisfy the ego of the customer – they feel happy when they get prompt after-sales services.
“The maximum complaints that we are receiving these days are of diamonds falling off. The most difficult complaint was from a customer who bought a ring and his finger got stuck in a door the same day, damaging the ring. He came to us complaining that he just bought it yesterday and the ring broke. We tried hard to explain to him that this is not a manufacturing defect, but we were unable to convince him. Finally, we changed his ring, without charging him any amount, just to keep him happy.”
Earning the trust of customers is more important to jewellery retailers than incurring some cost in doing free repairs, or replacing a stone. Says Priyanka Chopra, Chopra Sons Jewellers, Ludhiana, “Our customers are very important to us. Though we do not get many complaints, when we do, we make it a point to never offend our patrons. Calming the customers, making them feel at home is more important to us than worrying about free repairs. It builds long-term trust, and earns us a loyal clientele.”