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The Top 4 Tips To Use When Dealing With An Unhappy Customer


Studio Owner Article


Improve Staff and Customer Communication

Yes, this is an old saying! BUT it appears that many Dance Studio Owners do not really apply this important life fact. In business, it is vital to help you stay even keeled and to keep stress levels in check. Remember if your customers are not happy, you won’t be happy.

After running a successful dance studio for 34+ years, I can assure you that over the years we have had many customers who love and appreciate all that we have done and also some who do not. Upon further investigation. I have found that most of the unhappy folks are pretty much just unhappy people to start with. Now that doesn’t mean we haven’t dropped the ball occasionally. Then again, there is probably not a business in the world that hasn’t done something that has annoyed a customer here and there. Another thing to consider is the bigger your studio is the greater the chance that someone will not be happy about something. We are blessed to have a large school so along with that comes the increased chance that a customer will not be satisfied.

One thing we have developed is a very clear and concise message that all of our staff and faculty understand and promote. Once your customers know how you operate there is less of a chance that someone may be unclear as to what your studio stands for and what it doesn’t. Let’s face it, one size does not fit all! Some people will not be a good fit for your studio and that is ok. As a matter of fact, you may even want to consider giving the customer who is a pain in the neck a gift certificate to the studio down the street from your school! All kidding aside, you need to set clear boundaries and set reasonable expectations in everything your customers will experience at your studio. Most folks will follow your lead. And that can be good or bad. Your dance studio environment will dictate which one it will be.

Top 4 tips to remember when dealing with an unhappy customer…

1.      Decide how customer complaints will be handled before they actually happen. This is very important. I recommend that you do not just let anyone come in and occupy your time with a complaint without setting up an appointment ahead of time. Your time is valuable so make sure you set boundaries as to when and how you will meet unhappy customers. Set time limits for these meetings and try to keep them short.

2.      I personally do not like texting or emailing a response to issues and I advise my clients in the DTW Studio Owner VIP program to ONLY deal with issues face to face. Otherwise, this can go back and forth forever and words can be misinterpreted and the problem can escalate into something bigger than it has to be. Here’s how I recommend you respond to all complaints sent in to you via phone, email or text.  Explain that you are concerned about their issue and would like to set up a time for them to come in. Make sure the time is convenient for you as well.

3.      Don’t let things linger on for days on end without some kind of mutually agreed upon solution. If you dropped the ball don’t be afraid to say so. You can apologize and find a good way to move on. One thing I have found is that if I thank a customer for bringing something to our attention and let them know that we value their feedback, even if it isn’t what we want to hear, most customers will like the fact that you value what they had to say and that you will use it to make your business better moving forward.

4.      If someone is really unhappy and is not going to let go of what they are mad about, it is best to give them a refund and ask them to leave. Through the years, when we have gotten rid of the bad apples it has always been like a breath of fresh air. Again, keep in mind, you can’t please everyone. And if you have a really unhappy customer, chances are they are making you unhappy as well. So sometimes the best thing to do is to bring them in and let them know that you feel that your studio is not the best fit for them. Tell them you appreciate them being a customer but that you don’t want them to be in a place where they won’t be happy.

One thing I can tell you for sure. Try to take as much emotion out of any meetings and decisions you will be making. You are, after all, running a business. Through the years the best business decisions I have made are with a clear and unemotional mindset. However, this is not easy and you may have to work at it. Dance Studio Owners have a hard time doing this because we are so passionate about what we do. Passion will create energy. And sometimes that energy can create a spark which will ignite a flame and that flame can quickly become a raging inferno if we are not careful. I can assure you that I have had to work on this and still do. If you stay calm in the eye of the storm, everything will be under your control and your resolutions will be the right ones for you and your business.

Here’s to your success!



Angela D'Valda

Angela D'Valda

Originally from England, Angela spent her early years in Hong Kong where she studied with Carol Bateman. She continued her training at Arts Educational Trust in England. After moving to New York City she continued her studies with Martha Graham and Matt Mattox. She appeared with the Matt Mattox Company and toured with the first Disney On Parade working with Disney and N.B.C. Contracted to the Teatro National of Buenos Aires she performed for one year and spent an additional year as a featured soloist at the Teatro Maipo, Argentina. Travelling to Madrid, Spain she worked for Spanish television in a weekly variety show Tarde Para Todos and from there decided to form her own Dance Company. With the Company she choreographed and performed throughout Spain in theatres, and on television. Angela met her husband Steve while working together on a television special The Valerie Peters Show filmed in Tampa, Florida. In 1979 they formed the Adagio act DValda & Sirico appearing in theatres, clubs and on television shows such as David Letterman, Star Search and the Jerry Lewis Telethon. In 1982 they were contracted to Europe and appeared in a variety of shows in Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Italy before going to London, England where they appeared as Guest Artists for Wayne Sleep (formerly of the Royal Ballet) in his show Dash at the Dominium Theatre. Angela and Steve have owned and directed their dance studio in Fairfield, CT. for the past twenty two years and in 2005 added music and vocal classes to their curriculum. Angela served as chairperson for the tri state panel of the Royal Academy of Dancing and is Co-author of a Partner syllabus currently used for teacher training by Dance Educators of America. She continues to adjudicate and teach for major dance organizations and choreographs for theatre, television and conventions and was commissioned by Boston Ballet 11 to choreograph the highly acclaimed Brother Can You Spare A Dime? DValda & Sirico are currently in production choreographing the opening to the National Speakers Association convention on Broadway at the Marriott Marquis for August of 2008. Angela is co-owner of Dance Teacher Web designed as an online resource for teachers worldwide.

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