Is the Customer Always Right?

Is the Customer Always Right?

By John Jantsch

Here’s my quick answer – “hell no”

customer serviceLet me start by giving you some back story to this post. I read and pointed out on twitter an article from Fast Company – here’s the tweet – @ducttape: Are You Building a Consumer-Facing Company? http://su.pr/2XxE7B the customer vs culture debate rages on. The gist of the article is that sometimes you have to bend to make sure the customer is ultimately served. But, a little voice inside my head said – at what cost?

I stated as much and drew a couple exchanges from customer service consultant @tedcoinecustomer is not always right/Rule #1: The customer is always right. Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule #1! and There is a certain surrender necessary in winning customer service. You have to BELIEVE the customer is always right, true or not – to which I owe the timing of this post.

I have no problem whatsoever with the premise of the article, but I’ve come across far too many small businesses that view this age old saying “the customer is always right” as a lone justification for taking abuse at the hands of life sucking customers.

So, here’s my revised and updated small business proclamation – The Right Customer is Always Right. Now, here’s what I mean by that. There is absolutely nothing wrong, in fact there’s everything right, with building a culture of making the customer thrilled at every turn, but you can’t adopt the mentality without two things firmly in place first.

1) You must absolutely set up every communication with the goal of attracting the ideal customer – ideal is a customer that values what you have to offer, values how you offer it, and determines that value is a mutual exchange of such – very much like any healthy relationship. Bad relationships come from misunderstanding yourself and what you really have to offer and the same might be said for attracting customers for the wrong reasons.

2) You must build an experience that does indeed thrill at every turn – from lead generation to getting paid.

With those two qualifications in place you can allow the customer to always be right, because you’ve designed a culture of mutual benefit and your “we won’t rest until its right” policy will serve both of you long term. Small businesses simply can’t afford to attract the wrong kind of life robbing customer and expect to make them thrilled, it’s a nearly impossible task and will be accomplished likely to the detriment of your ideal customers.

So, repeat after me, the right customer is always right – with that mindset the accountability shifts from the customer to you.

Image credit: Torley

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