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Is the Customer really always right?

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When I started working in retail back in the 80’s, one of the very first things I was taught is that the customer is always right. As important as my customers have always been to me, I have questioned this adage many a time over the years.

 

 

DON’T GET ME WRONG

One of the aspects I enjoyed THE MOST about being in retail was my customers, and I was (and still am) absolutely PASSIONATE about exceeding customer expectations. Yes, I know they, not my boss, paid my salary, but it went way beyond that. It was more than “just my job”. I honestly enjoyed interacting with them, building relationships with them, seeing them walk out my store happy.

 

But not all of them … some customers you were glad to see the back of.

 

I’m not talking about the customer with a genuine complaint here. Those customers you value, because they care enough to complain, and you can invariably fix the situation and end up with a very loyal customer. Genuine complaints point out areas that are lacking; be it processes, services or any other area of your business that needs fixing or tweaking. Genuine complaints help your business, and ultimately your bottom line, improve.

 

 

THE TRUTH IS THOUGH

Some customers will never be satisfied. No matter how far you bend over backwards or how much time and energy you dedicate to these customers, they will just never be happy. And when it comes to deciding between wasting energy and resources on one toxic, unreasonable customer or meeting the needs of all your other customers, I really think there’s no contest. It’s far better to let Grumpy go. It might cost you short-term revenue, but it’s better for your business in the long run. And besides, don’t you think your nice customers and your loyal customers deserve the biggest chunk of your resources and your attention? I certainly think so!

 

Customers also need to know, yes, you value them, but you won’t let them abuse your staff or make it unpleasant for your other customers.

 

We’ve all been in a store where someone has completely flown off the handle or starts shouting profanities at the store staff. It makes almost everyone (staff and customers alike) feel uncomfortable and you just want to get out of there. By entertaining rude, obnoxious customers, you’re creating bad experiences for your loyal customers.

 

 

YOU WANT HAPPY EMPLOYEES

As a rule, unhappy employees provide poor customer service and happy employees treat your customers better and are more willing to go the extra mile.

 

When you consistently side with unreasonable customers because “the customer is always right”, you’re sending the message to your staff that they must put up with customer abuse, they are not valued, and they cannot expect to be treated with respect. This is very bad for staff morale. That is when your staff stop caring, and when your staff don’t care, your business suffers … greatly!

 

This does not mean that you or your staff can just treat customers any way they want to and it certainly doesn’t mean that your staff will not sometimes be in the wrong, but your support for your staff starts by giving them proper training and allowing them to develop the skills to deal effectively with unreasonable, constantly complaining customers.

 

 

IN CONCLUSION

Having said all that, I’m not saying you must simply give up on resolving conflict with your customers either. It goes without saying that both you and your employees must continuously strive to exceed your customers’ expectations and to provide excellent customer service. What I am saying is,  you need to assess each situation individually,  try by all means to resolve the issue in a professional manner first, but if all else fails, extract the important bits, look at the bigger picture and then make the best decision for your business.

 

You Know What? I’ve Got This!

Photo by Tai Jyun Chang on Unsplash

I’ve never been a great talker or writer for that matter. All my life I’ve always been inclined to do far more listening than talking and far more reading than writing. If you go and look it up, the stats vary from site to site, but I think the consensus is clear .. women speak on average double the number of words per day than what men do. So, to put this in perspective as far as uttered words per day go, there are women, then there are men, and then there’s me. Yup, I’m right at the bottom. As a matter of fact, you can press the enter key a couple of times after men and before me. Like this:

Spoken words per day:

Women

Men

.

.

.

.

Me

 

This most probably has something to do with my childhood. For a bit of background, not only was I extremely timid and shy as a child, I was also sickly and small for my age. Whenever we went somewhere with my mother, the grownups would always pat me on the head, remark on how small I was and then either ask me how I am or some other random question. The problem was, by the time I had opened my mouth to answer them, they were done patting my head and had moved on to talking to the grown-ups. This planted the seed that people are not interested in what I have to say.

 

 

I have gained loads more confidence since then.

 

Working with customers and dealing with staff kind of does that to you. Working in retail, nothing gives me greater pleasure than connecting with customers and staff and building rapport and close relationships. Over the years I have come to be comfortable training, from large groups of people to one-on-one sessions with individuals. As a leader, I am confident and assertive, I initiate conversations, I coach, I guide, but all of that is work related…

 

I’m not scared to try new things either. I have bungee jumped off a 216-metre-high bridge and on my bucket list is skydiving, shark cage diving and a plethora of wild and wonderfully dangerous things. I moved to a city 1652km away from my home to marry a man I met on the Internet, I started my own business …scary, scary things, but I had no problem doing it. 

 

Circling back to me starting a business, there was (and still is) so much to learn and absorb and truth be told, this journey has been far more exciting than it has been scary, but there’s one part of being a business owner that I did not anticipate and that is Social Media and blogging.

 

 

IT FREAKS ME OUT COMPLETELY!

 

All of a sudden, I have to put myself out there on all these Social Media platforms. You need to engage with your audience, you need to grow your audience, you must have a blog on your website to drive traffic … and all the advice is the same: “Listen to your audience’s pain points, that will give you great ideas for content; research topics” etc. etc. I get it. I get the importance of putting your business out there BUT I AM FREAKED OUT BEYOND BELIEF. Are all of you that’s handing out this advice stark raving mad?? No one wants to listen to what I have to say, no one cares about what I have to say?! So, DON’T come and tell me how easy it is, IT IS  NOT! Not for me anyway.

 

The crux of the matter is, in this digital, virtual age, no one is going to know just how great I am at what I’m doing, no one is going to know how much value I can add to their business, no one is going to know how much I care about helping people UNLESS I go and put myself out there.

 

So, this is it … this blog post is the hardest thing I have had to do in a very long time, but I did it. This post might not have added value to you or your business today, but stick around, I have a feeling this is going to get interesting.

 

I’ve got this!