The Customer is NOT Always Right!

3 reasons why the customer is not always right

One of the oldest adages for customer experience and customer service is “The customer is always right!”.

Sorry, I don’t hold with that. Why? People assume that it is better to keep a customer rather than alienate a customer. But often this is not the best decision to make.

I want to distinguish between two types of customers – those who buy products and those who buy services.  There is a key difference between them – products are fixed and tangible; services are experiential.  In short, products are about hand-offs and hand-overs, and services are about handshakes. Be clear on what you are dealing with – the product or the service.

So when is the customer NOT right? Simply put, there are three times.

Firstly, when the customer is not a customer. Just because someone has bought from you does not mean that they are a suitable customer, or that they are someone you want to have and keep as a customer. Think of a time you had the “customer from hell” where the cost, stress and effort involved in servicing the client was not worthwhile. What did you do? Keep them and continue to suffer or let them go?

Secondly, when the customer is wrong. Yes, they are human and fallible and prone to making mistakes just as often as you and I. Just because they believe they are right does not mean that they are right. Think of a time when you believed you were right, but when you considered the situation further you found that you were wrong. Caving-in to a customer just because they think they are right does damage in two ways – the customer is kept uninformed and unaware of the risks/costs they are incurring; and you are doing the wrong thing by the customer, it may be a difficult conversation but you need to act in the customer’s best interests and educate them.

Finally, when you are right. You should be an expert and experienced in regards what you are selling to your customers – whether products or services – and you should be able to distinguish between when you are right or not. Just because a client is more vocal or aggressive in what they are saying or claiming does not diminish you or your expertise. Be assertive and calmly state the position whilst staying focused on the issue and not the individual.

So what are you going to do when the customer is not right, and how will you handle the situation? Share here the one action you will take, right now, to address this.

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