Contrary to popular opinion, the customer is not always right. This phrase was coined over 100 years ago, and as does everything, change happens. We always want to give the customer the benefit of doubt. The unfortunate reality is customers can and will be dishonest. Customers who share that phrase typically have not been educated or they have unrealistic expectations of what the company can and won’t do.
When a customer is wrong and the guidelines we have laid before us indicate they are wrong, we want them to believe they are right. We have the power to do that in a way that doesn’t actually make them right. The customer merely wants to be heard and compensated for the issue they feel the company wronged them with. We take their hand, walk them through the rules and regulations of the company policy. We say “I understand,” and “please” and “thank you” a lot, and we sugar-coat the situation to the best of our ability. Nine times out of ten, the customer will understand and accept the offer.
Always apologize for the experience the customer has encountered. Assure the customer you want to make things right with them. Express sincere concern. Make every attempt to right the situation quickly and effectively with the tools and guidelines available. Never banter with the customer. If the situation becomes escalated stop it immediately. Let the customer vent. Take a deep breath, count to ten, think thoughts of puppies and fluffy clouds, or whatever that warm fuzzy place is.
Of course there are always going to be those customers who insist the company is wrong. They will fight tooth and nail until they get what they think they deserve (they will, but that’s another topic). If it comes to a point where solving the customer’s issue is beyond your control, it is okay to be honest and tell them, “I’m sorry I cannot do that for you today.” There is nothing wrong with saying “No.” Remember that every customer is not right, but every customer has the right to be heard.
On that note, stay positive and put a smile where you can.
Footnote: This year I decided to go with the A-Z of Customer Service. I’ve complained too long that customer service isn’t what it should be. Tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor. He put me in a position make a difference in what I think customer service is and should be. This month I will share with you what I’ve learned about successful customer service. Hope you enjoy the ride.