CUSTOMERS GET ANGRY when a stone falls out of their ring after we’ve worked on it for them. But honestly, can you blame them? Heck, I’d get angry if a tire on my car got loose right after an oil change as well.
So how should you respond? A lot depends on the value of the stone. Melee usually has no intrinsic value to the customer. A center stone … now that’s a different question.
The first kind of loss may not be your fault. Prongs get pulled back on clothing or sheets. Well-set stones shouldn’t fall out. I’d ask the woman if she sleeps in her jewelry, and if she says “yes,” tell her, “Never sleep in your jewelry. The prongs on small stones are only twice as thick as an eyelash, and they can get caught on sheet and banket threads.”
The second kind of loss is if you worked on the ring and a stone fell out. I’d still mention not sleeping in the jewelry but add: “I’m so sorry. I will make sure my best jeweler goes over every prong with a fine-tooth comb and make sure there’s no space between the metal prong and the stone so it doesn’t snag anymore.”
Most consumers believe everything sold in America comes with a 12-month warranty. Heck, some jewelry customers believe it’s guaranteed forever. That’s why take-in is so important. As an example, we didn’t guarantee stone loss unless it had at least four prongs, sometimes we’d say must have six. Write that down on the envelope. We also didn’t warranty large stones, as a few hundred-dollar repair doesn’t have enough money to pay for replacing a $9,000 diamond. That’s why they should get the ring appraised and have additional coverage. But again, this must be written on the customer’s receipt at take-in.
Most stores don’t understand the collective monies received charging a customer an additional $35 or more to check, tighten and warranty stone loss. If you take in 3,000 to 5,000 jobs a year (we took in almost 9,000) and charge the minimum of $35, in a year you could collect $18,000 to $35,000. The typical store pays out less than $5,000 a year for stone loss. So now you can afford to be a mensch with a smile.
Never start by telling a customer it’s their fault or they must have caught the ring in a door. Instead, let them talk and don’t interrupt; let them get it off of their chest. These days, with Google and Yelp reviews so important to your business, fix the problem if you can. Apologize for the inconvenience and tell them up front, “We’ll take care of it for you.”
If you set a major stone or retipped or maybe even sized it, you’re probably to blame. Even if you’re not, you’re going to have to make the customer happy. (Of course, it’s different if a ring comes back bent in two.)
Training the staff who takes in the work is paramount; we trained for 15 minutes every other Friday for years. And if you charge to check and tighten and, as a result, take in $15,000 a year or more in fees, it’s easier to swallow.