Why Customers are Always Right

In our customer service training course we often hear the term 'the customer is always right'. There is often an argument that this isn't always true. In this post we look at if customers are always right and, if they are, why.
Why Customers are Always Right
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The Customer is Always Right

It's a term that we hear a lot - 'The Customer is Always Right'. Whether you agree with it or not, the likely hood is the statement is very true.

They are the people that can make or break a business. They pay the money for the goods and services you offer and in the end keep a business afloat.

Yes, they can be demanding, but with good reason. Sometimes we look at their complaints as moaning or a personal attack, but organisations should be listening to these complaints and learn from them.

Why Do Customers Complain?

When a customer complains it's obviously because we have let them down in some way. Whether they come at us shouting and screaming or very politely, either way they are dissatisfied and feel as though we should know about it. In reality, what they are doing is providing us with valuable feedback.

In our Customer Service Training Course we talk about the fact that as customers we all have expectations of the service we should receive. These standards are set from experience of dealing with other similar organisations, whether this be a small shop or a large chain of restaurants. When we get something we like we remember it and tend to expect the same from somewhere else. When we don't get it it disappoints us and this generates an emotion that causes us to act.

That act is the behaviour that we see from customers when they complain. On first sight we see it as very negative behaviour and we feel as though the customer is attacking us personally. However, what the customer is actually doing is relaying their feelings about the difference in service that you have offered and another organisation has given them. In other words feedback. Remember, the way they are delivering it is driven by an emotion - and that emotion will cause different people to act in different ways.

The customer may not be right in terms of what they are saying, but they are right in the way that they are behaving. This is because the feeling/emotion that have is justifying the behaviour. In their mind, they are completely rational. Anything that we do at this point to try and change that is not not going to be received positively.

Why Customer Feedback is So Valuable

This feedback is valuable. In a world where customers want more for less and so much competition around, one of the main differentiators between organisations is the service that they offer. Get the service wrong and you probably will lose the customer to a competitor.

When a customer complains, the first thing we want to do is defend ourselves, and this defence mechanism usually means we put the barriers up immediately and stand our position. Once we make the unconscious choice to do this we are not really listening to them when really we should be.

When a customer complains it's vitally important to make a conscious decision to stay calm and be assertive (confident). We need to ensure that our body language reflects this i.e. we are not scared nor are we defensive. We need to make every effort to listen to what the customer has to say - not interrupting them or arguing with them. If the customer sees that we are paying attention they are more likely to become more reasonable themselves.

When the customer has finished providing feedback, thank them for bringing the issue to your attention and begin to look at ways to resolve the situation for them, but also ensuring you have all of the details to think about how you can make changes to your service to improve it based on the feedback you were given.

Customers will stay loyal providing they like the service. Listen to their feedback and act on the changes.

Think of it this way. If your boss gave you feedback, would you listen and act on it? The answer is probably yes, so why not take the same approach with customers.

Types of Customers and How to Deal with Each

Different businesses will see different types of customers. This will depend on whether you are a business to public organisation or a business to business.

Each customer is an individual. They will all have different needs and wants and they will all have different expectations.

If you think about yourself as a customer, some days you like to browse. You want those that are serving your request to chat and take care of you. On other days you want to be in and out as quickly as possible.

It depends on your mood and what else you have going on that day. It also depends on what it is you are buying.

Here are some examples of types of customers:

Impulse

These customers don’t have something in particular that they would like to buy. Typically seen browsing a high street or looking at online stores. They tend to buy something that catches their attention or what looks like a good deal at the time.

Engage and show interest – but not too much too early. Try and use questions to establish what their interests are. Make it conversational and not a hard-sell approach.

If you find out some useful information you can use this to show how you can help.

Make yourself available if they don’t want to talk right away. Let them know they can approach you at any time if they have questions.

Has a Need

These customers have something very specific in mind that they would like to buy. It could be driven by an absolute need such as insurance. They also may have a specific need for a particular kind of product, for example, a suit to attend an event. They are in the mindset to buy.

Show this customer what you can do to satisfy their need. Just because they know what they want, it doesn’t mean you should rush through the interaction. Remember, there is still the experience to consider. You want to turn them into loyal customers and it’s the experience that will do this.

Something to Do

These customers probably have no intent in buying. They wander into a store or look online for something to do – “I’m bored, let’s go to town’.

Just because you have a browser, it doesn’t mean they are not a customer. It’s just they are not right now. Providing this customer with a great experience will mean they remember you and your business. When they do become an impulse or needs buyer, they will likely come to you first.

Discount

These customers are out to strike a deal. They may have a specific thing in mind that they would like to buy, but they will go looking for a deal. They want to feel as though they are getting value for money.

This customer may come across as pushy. They know what they want and they often don’t want to pay full price for it. Show them any offers that you have, but also show how other products and services that you have can also add value (even at full price).

Loyal

Loyal customers are the type that we all want. They will use a particular business because of the experience they get. In some cases, cost doesn’t come into it. They will be happy to spend a little bit more to get the experience that they want.

The idea behind offering great service is to turn the first 4 into loyal customers. AND remember, no matter the type of customer, it’s the experience they have that will keep them coming back.

Customer Service Training Course

If you would like to find out more about delivering great customer service, then take a look at our Customer Service Training Course.


David Lumley02-06-2011

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