Customers are always right, right?
Yes and No…but Yes.
I’m sure you have heard this before, “The customer is always right”. It’s a popular phrase that originated in the 1930’s. I’m curious, as I get older (I’ve been in customer service for a long long time), and considering my profession, if this still rings true in the ears and hearts of employers/employees, and additionally — what customers today think about this phrase.
If you’ve ever worked with customers in one way or another it would be obvious to you that indeed the customer is not always right. In fact, often, customers are sometimes just plain wrong. Before anyone out there reading this totally falls apart over what I’m saying, let me explain. What I mean to say is this: we are all humans — we are all susceptible to making mistakes. No matter what side of the register we are on, we are all human — so customers can indeed be wrong. It’s how we make them FEEL that will determine our success.
Maybe they don’t fully understand the policies, or maybe they misinterpreted the sale signage or didn’t read the fine print. Our patrons just get things wrong sometimes. Those particular incidents mentioned could surely could be argued it’s on the fault of the company for not being clear on messaging — and I could agree. That said, sometimes, customers are just wrong.
I am not suggesting in any way that as a customer service representative or as a business owner, we tell them that they are wrong. That would be business suicide. On the contrary, our job is to make them FEEL like they are always right. Yes, there is the key word, FEEL. Through our actions, service, demeanor, and the overall way we handle the situation, we can make them feel as if they are in fact right — even when we know they are 100% wrong. It’s that simple. That’s customer service 101.
So, my advice to all the customer service representatives out there, no matter what. industry you are in — make your customer FEEL like they are right. Make them FEEL like they mattered and you took care of the situation. It’s all in how you train your employees on how to handle customers and ultimately, how you make them feel. Never get into a argument or make them feel bad for misunderstanding something or misreading something or not being aware of something.
To be noted, it’s not always intentional on the part of the employee to hurt the customers feelings. I have had passionate associates who know their job, the products, and policies/procedures, very well and when they go to handle a customer who is “in the wrong,” end up making matters worse and possible turning away a customer by almost “scolding them” or “putting them in their place”.
Here’s the bottom line — sometimes we just need to take one for the team and do what’s right for our customers. They pay the bills ultimately and without them you have no business. Politely honor the price they thought it was. Keep whatever thought you may have in your head. Smile, and humbly thank them for their business. Do the right thing and make them FEEL like they matter to you and that they are always right.
Joshua S. Kangley