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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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.

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.

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.

David Lumley02-06-2011

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