The Customer Is Always Right

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. - Bill Gates quote

Right? Are they? Let’s take a look.

Have you ever experienced an unruly customer?  Maybe they were completely out of line, and they were ‘wrong’ to begin with, or maybe they were just upset and let their emotions get out of control.  I sure have.

Maybe you left that interaction feeling abused or taken advantage of.  Maybe you caved in order to get them out of the store before they convinced other customers they shouldn’t do business there, either.

The issue isn’t whether the unhappy customer is allowed to voice their concerns; of course they should be.  The real issue- what other customers are really watching- is how you handle the unhappy customer.

The root cause of all unhappy customers is unmet expectations. (tweet this)

This extends beyond business into family, friendships, and every other relationship, as well.

It doesn’t matter what the problem is or who is at fault.  Some people are just out to get something for free, or to make a scene.  They probably have too many cats, too.

Here’s why, regardless of what the real problem is, the customer is always right (even when they’re not- and what to do about it).

1.  They pay your bills.

It’s true- paying customers pay your bills.  When they buy from you, they give you additional money with which to continue operating.  They do this because they expect that you’ll handle the money well, and they expect that you’ll continue to be in business to serve them, should something go wrong or should they want to buy something else from you.  Losing enough income could force you to close your business.

Instead, focus on how to ‘wow’ more customers.  Dedicate yourself to constantly improving your business and your customers will thank you.

2.  They talk (and type)- a lot.

Research shows that a happy customer will tell anywhere from 3 to 5 friends, but an unhappy customer will tell close to a hundred people (this may be more, with modern technology- their message of unhappiness could reach thousands of people).  Take care of them and they will take care of you.

Business is about people, by the way.  Forget that rule and you’re doomed. (tweet this)

3.  They are watching.

Like children wanting to learn how best to get along in the world, customers are always watching, holding you to higher standards because of your visibility and ability impact the community.  They want to know they’re supporting a good cause, not some jerk with an idea.

Host regular events in your store that benefit the community. This could be a charity fundraiser sale where you donate a portion or all of the profits from that night’s purchases to a chosen charity, or it could be as simple as allowing children to trick-or-treat in your store on Halloween.  Remember that it’s not all about you.

Here’s one final takeaway from our conversation:

When a customer is unhappy about something and you firmly believe they are wrong,  excuse yourself to your office and write down what you’re feeling in that moment.  Include things the customer has said that are incorrect or not-quite-right.  Try and understand the source of the unhappiness, remembering that the unhappy customer simply has some unmet expectations.  Depending on the source of their expectations, you may have a lot of upset customers coming your way.

If it’s advertising, pull it or change it.  If it was a poorly worded offer or discount, make good on that offer and move on.  Make the customer happy, then fix the problem.  In doing so, you’ll create a level of trust that is unmatched in the business world and you’ll learn to be more thorough next time.  Take this bull of an opportunity to learn by the horns.

Whatever the root cause of your unhappy customers, remember this- they came to you with a list of unspoken reasons why they wanted to do business with you.  Give them a reason to continue doing business with you, and they will.

The customer doesn’t always want to be right; they just want to be understood.

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