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When the customer isn’t always right

How to stay on top of customer service without being browbeaten

There’s reasonable and then there’s reasonable. The old adage that the customer is always right is as reasonable as a request for an ocean view room in Alice Springs.


No one is always right and to give customers a banner to fly (in the guise of a cliché taped to your office bulletin board) to excuse rudeness and impossible demands is not good business sense.


We all want to treat our customers and clients as though they are our number one source of business and that our first time customers will soon be our repeat customers, but this isn’t always the case. Customers deserve to get the product or service they paid for, to be treated with respect and to be provided with the information they require. But they aren’t always right.


Have procedures in place for dealing with unhappy customers. If dealt with professionally, customers will more likely accept the terms offered – especially if you are following protocol while looking at their specific issue. Set procedures also communicate to your staff that you are in business with them – not immediately siding with the customer. And a happy staff sells.


Not all customers are created equal. They will not all be loyal or bring in a lot of profit. You have to allocate a reasonable (there’s that word again) amount of time to deal with a customer’s complaint. You are a valuable resource and spending hours dealing with a customer is not worth the time of either party. Try and come to a solution quickly that will satisfy (perhaps not completely) both parties.


Sometimes breaking up is the answer. Ever been stuck in a bad relationship and when it’s finally over wonder what you’d been thinking? Sometimes client relationships are like that. The energy and resources spent dealing with a trouble client may be better spent getting newer and better clients. Easily said. Hard to do.


And remember, if a client is unhappy about your product or service, remember to listen to them before anything else. Not only will this help you solve their problem faster, but it may also highlight a larger issue your company is facing.


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Written by: Gaya Avery

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