The customer is always right, right?

"The Customer is Always Right"
HARRY GORDON SELFRIDGE

This age old adage is heralded by thousands of customer service reps and business owners alike, and for good reason: customers ultimately pay the bills and pay the salaries. Without customers, there IS no business!

So when I came across a site called 'customerssuck.com', I came to think: "Oh, here we go again! Yet another sales or customer service person who thinks he or she can be picky about their customers!" But I think most of us have had at least one experience that made us question this. So is the customer always right?

First of all, I want you to read the story about the 'Vinegar Boy', by this guy Aaron. Read it, read all of it. It's quite a fun story to read, if it wasn't so sad. Read it, because it is a great story to illustrate why the customer is always right.

Huh?

If you have read the story, you may call out: "But THAT isn't right! The story is the complete opposite! You DO have customers that are obnoxious, rude, morons, liars, and thieves!" But I put to you that this isn't the case.

Why the customer is always right...

The tricky thing with customers is that there comes a time where you have to decide if you want the future business of the customer or not.

Some business have no interest in the future business of any of their customers, and treat them all like dirt. On the other end of the spectrum you have small businesses going almost belly up because they accept any and all behavior of the big factory uptown which is responsible for 80% of their business. And you have supermarket managers telling customers on a daily basis not to come back to the store. But then again, 'customer' may not be a good name for a shoplifter.

You don't have to take everything from everyone.

You're in business. And in business you don't have to take every deal. You can draw the line at abusive behavior by the customer. You can draw the line at customers lying to take advantage. You can draw the line at customers stealing. In fact, you can draw the line anywhere you want. There are stores not letting people in because they don't look rich enough. Fair enough, if they don't expect them to get in later when they do.

In your business, discuss when you do not longer want a customer. So everybody in the business knows that the customer that crosses the line is no longer called a customer. But the tricky thing is not to assume anything. Don't assume that the Hell's Angel just coming into the store is going to be rude or steal. At one time, I was followed by a supermarket manager around the store. I guess he assumed that since I looked young (yes, there was a time!) I would steal something. I felt he'd rather have me leave, so he could go about his business again. Very annoying. I didn't bother to go there again.

But when a customer actually does cross the line, you can tell them that you no longer want their business. And at that point, they ceise to have the right to be right.

Yes. The customer is always right. But not all customers need to stay customers.

And 'Vinegar Boy' and his mother should have been fired as customers as soon as there lies became apparent to the manager. Because he failed to do so, in the end, he got the sack.

 

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