There are some sayings that we learn that seem like we were born knowing that aren’t completely accurate. In business, especially the service industry one of these not-so-accurate sayings is, “The customer is always right.”
Obviously the idea behind this is that you should relate to all customers and their situation as if you were them. The flip comes when you interact with a customer who is clearly wrong. So what do you do? Specifically when you can’t come to a solution to make the situation “right.”
In every interaction with a customer, you want to keep your end result in mind. That result being the next time the customer needs whatever it is that you sell, they will come back to you.
So when you sense that you have an issue, disagreement, or complaint, focus on wanting the result of having them return to you for their needs. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is, when the interaction is over you want to leave the door open so the customer will feel comfortable coming back. This is always clear if you are at fault and are righting the wrong. If the customer happens to be wrong, that is even more important. The key to finishing strong is to let the customer be wrong with dignity and respect.
There may be situations that may be more “complicated” than the average issue. Sometimes it appears as if there is nothing that can be done to make a customer happy.
While you want to empower your staff to make good customer focused decisions, you must let them decide if it’s time for a manager to step in for those difficult situations and decisions. Losing a customer might be bad – but sometimes it’s the right or best outcome – but losing an employee is harder to recover from.
Allowing an employee to be mistreated by a customer can impact not only the employee involved, but also the coworkers witnessing the incident. You could eventually have a staff that is demotivated, disengaged and even disloyal to the business. However, the opposite is also true. When you support your employees through a difficult encounter with a customer, it’s very much appreciated, motivational, and builds their loyalty to your leadership and the business.
Right or wrong, the ultimate goal is to make the customer feel like they’ve gotten what they came for. Good customer service can make or break a business. It really is what makes people come back or stay away. You could have Gordon Ramsey as your Chef, but if the customer isn’t made to feel important and attended to, they will likely never come back.
Bottom line, do what feels right to satisfy your customer’s needs. And asking for backup from a manager in a situation that may be uncomfortable or feel unresolvable is never a wrong choice.