The phrase "The customer is always right" has been around for many years and is commonly cited as a reminder for businesses to engage in great customer service practices. While the saying is well-intentioned, the reality is that sometimes the customer isn't right at all. Here are several reasons why this can be the case, and suggestions on what to do when you encounter a customer that’s definitely wrong.
The customer may not know what he/she is talking about.
There are times when a customer sincerely believes they are correct about something that they are actually misinformed about. If this is the case, you may be able to politely explain that they have misunderstood the situation. In most cases, this will be sufficient, but some will simply choose to believe that they know what they're talking about and that you are failing to live up to your end of the bargain.
The customer may have unrealistic expectations.
Sometimes customers have unrealistic expectations about what a business can provide or how it is able to perform. While it is certainly your duty to provide what you advertise and perform your services to the best of your ability, there are plenty of variables that can get in the way of what you can realistically deliver.
The customer's opinion may not reflect the majority.
If you want to stay in business, you have to keep your customers happy, but even if you're able to keep most of them happy, that doesn't mean that they all feel the same way about your products/services. You should stick with what works for the majority of customers, which means that a customer whose opinion differs may not be "right."
The customer's opinion may not reflect what's best for the brand.
Certain customers' opinions may not reflect what is actually best for your brand. A customer can get used to the way things have been for a length of time and resist change when it's time to make improvements that benefit the customer base at large. In the age of social media, you will no doubt hear from those who are resistant, but if you know your changes are best for your customers and your brand, you have to accept that some customers are just wrong.
Customers may be disrespectful to you or your staff.
Even if you haven't dealt with them in your own place of business, chances are you have encountered unruly patrons at some store or restaurant who have been disrespectful to clerks, servers, and others. It's never okay for a customer to treat staff in a disrespectful manner, and tolerating this should not be part of your company's policy.
Some customers can create unhealthy tension between employees and management.
Sometimes, taking the side of the customer when they're in the wrong puts you in a difficult position internally.
"If you’re lucky enough to have found employees who you trust and respect, don’t risk losing them by siding with the customer by default," says Jayson DeMers, Founder & CEO of AudienceBloom.1 "When you tell your employees 'the customer is always right,' you immediately position them against the customer – and the customer always wins. If you want to keep your employees happy and effective, back them up. Prove to them that you respect their judgment and opinions, and when faced with siding with your employee or an unreasonable customer, always choose your employee."
Finding valuable and loyal employees is not always easy, and showing them the respect they deserve, even when it means losing an unreasonable customer, is well worth it.
Some customers may bother other customers.
Rude people are everywhere, and there's always the chance that they'll enter your place of business. This can make your other, more respectful customers uncomfortable and annoyed. If this is the case, do your best to deal with the situation accordingly. Bad customers can hurt your ability to provide good customer service to better customers. Don’t get upset. Let them know if there is nothing you can do. If you feel you are in the right, state your case, but be polite.
Sometimes, customers can take up more time and resources than their business is worth.
Trying to satisfy a few cranky customers can take up time and resources that a business could be using to find more (and better) customers who will bring in more profit. It may be easier and a more financially responsible option to simply inform these upset customers that you won't be able to satisfy their demands. Be polite and respectful, but know when to move on.
No matter how many times you hear, "The customer is always right," if you've been in business long enough, you know that this is simply not true. While having great customer service is a critical component of keeping your customer base happy, you need to know when the customer is off base and how to deal with it.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A. Member FDIC