How to Maintain Relationships When Something Goes Wrong

This happens about once a year…

I get calls, emails and texts from customers saying, “My milk taste awful this week. I can’t drink it. Can I get a refund? What happened?”

All normal on a raw milk dairy — whether it’s the accidental jaunt through the onion patch or the excessive grass in spring, I can count on off-tasting milk once per year so I can even give all a heads up that it might happen.

But this week it was totally unexpected!

There are no onions, no spring grass, no nasty bacteria.

There is no explainable reason the milk should taste off.

Yet, I got the texts and the emails starting Saturday afternoon.

I ran out to the store immediately to taste the milk…

And had to SPIT IT OUT!

how to maintain relationships when something goes wrong

What’s Going On Here?

What the heck is going on? This IS gross…

Now my head is spinning trying to figure out what went wrong.

And I’m super embarrassed to admit…

BETSY IS PREGNANT! Holy cow, how did I miss this?

She was pregnant a few months back, but I thought she lost the calf when she showed signs of being in heat.

And then, every 3 weeks after that I swore I saw her in heat again. For months I hallucinated she was in heat!

But she wasn’t in heat.

The awful taste is the colostrum and edema and massive hormonal changes – as she’s due to calve at any moment and I was still milking her!!

So, if this has ever happened to you, you’re not alone.

And someone, please tell me it HAS happened to you, so I’m not alone here!

Tell Me I’m Not Alone!

Four days after discovering she was pregnant, she calved a healthy heifer.

As excited as I was to find out we were expecting, I still had these upset customers that wanted refunds.

And I can totally understand.

Listen, we’re dealing with live animals and these things happen.

I’ve been flooded with emails, texts messages and phone calls from customers that want to exchange the “bad” milk and/or get a refund.

I’ve been dishing out hundreds of dollars in refunds this week because I’m passionate about maintaining relationships with valuable customers.

And it’s all about relationships, right?

Last week I had to close my farm store.

This week I’m still refunding and emailing customers explaining what happened.

And they understand…

All because of the relationship I have with them. They trust me and know that I’m dealing with a live animal.

And if my customers are unhappy, they deserve a refund. Even if that means I take a loss.

Before I figured out the problem, I could have freaked out (blamed the customer) and told people, “NO. All sales are final.” but my policy is always, money back, no questions asked.

After I assure them they will get an immediate refund, I have a conversation with them to determine if it was my problem to fix or perhaps their fridge is off.

But still, I always refund first. This puts them in a very understanding and generous spot.

I had someone cook their chicken till it was like leather. It was the first chicken they bought from me. I gave them a free chicken (and a cooking lesson) and they were shocked that even though they had ruined it, I replaced it.

And guess what? They are customers for life. And they tell all their friends to shop with us.

I know that after my cow gives birth, I’ll have PLENTY of milk to go around — Which is a blessing.

And, I’ll be able to offer milk to a few people on my waiting list —which will make them very happy as well.

There are Good Days and Bad Days

These are the peaks and valleys that most farmers don’t talk about. It’s ok to issue a refund (maintain the relationship) and keep your customers happy.

…if your customer is ideal.

So, if you have a few customers that give you a hard time about having “bad” milk (they don’t understand that we’re dealing with LIVE animals), then it’s ok to cross them off the list and give their portion of milk to someone else.

And there are even more who refused to take the refund – asking if we would keep it instead.

These are our dream customers!

The tide will turn and you’ll make it up on the backend. After years of experience, I’m now able to roll with the punches and believe in the process.

Has this ever happened to you?

If so, tell me about it in the comments.

And here’s a quick video I did to go even deeper in how to maintain relationships – – even when something goes wrong!

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Hi, I'm Charlotte Smith!

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