Saturday, July 26, 2014

Is the customer always right?

I have to admit that I haven’t spent much time in the past reading blogs and as I am now writing one of my own, I decided to check out a few of the other blogs to get a better idea of how others do it. I didn’t really learn anything new about blogging (so don’t watch for a drastic improvement) except that everyone writes them differently and with a wide range of quality. I did however stumble across one that I found particularly fun to read and it got me thinking about customer service.

This particular blog was more of a website that accepted stories about employee experiences with customers. It poked fun at how the customer is never right as opposed to the well known phrase “the customer is always right”. Please don’t get the wrong idea regarding my thoughts on customer service, but I did find most of the stories quite hilarious. Anyone who’s spent time in retail can tell you stories like the customer who tried to get warranty service on an item that has a competitor’s private label on it. Or, as I often run into, customers telling me that we’re closed on Sunday, even though we’ve had the same Sunday hours (we’re open) for over eight years now. The point is, everyone makes mistakes, or incorrect assumptions, every once in a while and nobody is always right.

The first mistake most people make is in taking the phrase “the customer is always right” literally. It may be a lot easier to say than “the customer always has a right to excellent customer service”, but the latter is more accurate. The customer is the one keeping you in business. Any (honest) businessman will tell you that the reason they are in business is to make money. I choose to make money by helping others, but in the end, I do that, as a profession, to make money. That money made comes from the customer. That is why (as often as possible) “what the customer wants, the customer should get”. It may not be exactly what they’re asking for or expecting, but it should at least get an answer or solution for their issue.

There are definitely limits on what you can reasonably do for a customer, but it’s not that hard to find the middle ground. Like the customer that comes in with the competitor’s item needing warranty service, I may not be able to fulfill their warranty, but more often than not, I am able to repair it or get them the parts they need. Great customer service should be a no-brainer as it brings you repeat business and often added business from word of mouth advertising. Going that extra step will pay off in dollars.

Stories about the “unreasonable” customers are plentiful and often fun to listen to, but there is a reason those types of customers are out there. Because they have had to deal with a complete lack of customer service in so many businesses, they choose to approach you with a fighter’s stance. There is also that misconception that “the customer is always right” means that they can get whatever they want. I always think back to the Garth Brooks song “Unanswered Prayers”. I love the song, but never agreed with the premise. ALL prayers are answered….the answer just isn’t always “yes”. Until next time…