William Howell

Transparent | Innovative | Relational

The Customer is not always right.

When I typed that for the first time, I knew that I might get a bit of a backlash from it. We have, as a culture, been trained to read the following as truth; “The Customer Is Always Right.”  Unfortunately, this is not always true. Sadly, I have seen enough YouTube videos showing quite the opposite. However, we don’t have to pull of those up. All we have to do is have a few moments of common sense.

If the customer calls in and tells you that the sky is green…either there’s a tornado nearby or the customer is indeed wrong. If the customer writes you a letter stating that the world is flat, by default you would be agreeing with what scientists and world travelers debunked centuries ago. With just a few keys picked on the computer keyboard, I have debunked the myth that the customer is always right. Let all the Customer Service Specialists rejoice!

Now, let me follow up with this; The Customer should always be honored. What I mean by that is this; the customer has the right to question and bring up their concerns and you have a job/responsibility to help resolve that to the best of the ability that you have granted by your employer. Here are five tips to show honor to your customers;

1. Listen. For over 20 years, I have been in a customer service position. One of the things that I have learned over those years is that it is important to listen. When you read that, you may be thinking just about the words that they are speaking. I am actually talking a little deeper than that. There is always an underlying issue and you don’t have to be a psychologist to figure it out.

2. Respond with Empathy. Show them you care. You don’t have to pull out the stops to do this. All you have to do is speak with kindness, respond with the appropriate verbiage, and walk the walk through your voice tones.

3. Offer a Solution. One thing that I have learned is this; don’t say “that’s not my job.”  Offer a solution regardless of your position. If you know that the product they are looking for is not offered through you but through another company, offer them the solution to go to that company and get it. I can recall many times that we would get phone calls about other books and music. Though we did not carry them, I knew exactly where the customer could get them. It may not be recognized by your leadership, but it will be recognized by the important people; your customer.

4. Show kindness with your actions. The previous applies here as well. Take the initiative to make the situation right…with kindness. No smirk or snide remarks are needed. Go above and beyond. I can recall a time where a customer received the wrong material. Most businesses would require that the customer returns the product. I did not and replaced the order at no charge with quick shipping. Most customers aren’t out to stick it to the man. They are trying to get their merchandise and/or service.

5. End the conversation (written or verbal) with grace. It is really that simple. End the conversation with grace. End the conversation with a polite attitude of gratitude.

There is a whole conglomerate of books, websites, ideas, etc. that will teach on this topic of honoring your customers. However, it is important that you know this fact; “Though the customer is not always right; they are always to be honored.” If you can get that down, your customers will feel like a million bucks!

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