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When I first read the statement ‘the customer is always right’, my first thought was yes it is true. This reaction was based on experiences in the restaurant business where if the customer was not satisfied with his or her meal, they can request a new one, no questions asked. I feel in this day and age, this is no longer the case. I do not feel the customer is always right for many reasons that I will discuss in this report.
I now see how I perceived the statement ‘the customer is always right’ was based on others opinions and not of my understanding of the statement. For as long as I can remember the adage of ‘the customer is always right’ has been a prevalent part of the customer service experience.
I do not believe that this is always true and customers are frequently wrong about all kinds of things. So despite the almost universal acceptance of this saying I will explore whether that is actually the best approach.
The first thing I looked at is how this approach affects the customer. While everyone would like to be right all the time, it just isn’t going to happen. ‘The customer is always right’ focuses on the immediate satisfaction of the customer with little regard for the final result of experience and an important part of the experience is the outcome. A customer will not be satisfied if the outcome isn’t what they truly wanted, no matter how happy a customer is with their treatment throughout the interaction.
The other side of this adage is the effect it has on the customer service you provide. Creating a happy customer clearly a goal of anyone that is trying to deliver exceptional customer service. However, going into a customer encounter with the idea that they are always right fails to recognize the expertise and experience that the service provider has to offer.
The value of the service provider, is robbed of the confidence they need to perform in their role in achieving the outcome the customer desires. I have heard of a different approach of which I agree, ‘the customer is not always correct, but they always have the right to be wrong with dignity’. Having the right to be wrong with dignity creates an environment where customers can freely communicate their ideas and desires while allowing the service provider the chance to respect them and help them achieve the result they are looking for. A customer can still express opinions, disappointment or frustrations and the employee can respond with courtesy while still respecting the reality of the situation. I believe that not only will the customers be treated with courtesy and respect, it will enable us to partner with them to create the outcome they are looking for. This we learned in lesson 3, the customer value that suggests we begin to find out what each customer wants and needs and then work towards fulfilling those needs and then delivering the product or service in a manner that meets, and hopefully exceeds, the customer’s initial expectations. The more I think of the comment about the unsatisfied customer returning his or her meal, the more I see that it’s about customer satisfaction, as learned in lesson 4.
I suppose when you begin a business, it’s easy to stay on top of what customers want and what they’re getting. Creating a customer service policy and adhering to it, is so important. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but something as simple as ‘the customer is always right’ can lay the necessary groundwork. If you commit to providing customer service excellence, your customers will sense it and will put you on top of your industry. Your employee’s are your front-line workers and provide your customer service. They should be rewarded when they practice it consistently. I believe it is quite effective if you meet with your employee’s on a regular basis and keep them apprised of your goals and of your customers’ needs. I truly believe that if you as a service provider, can do all that you can to make a customer happy, then you will achieve your goal of customer satisfaction. Lesson 1 of this course, Personality and Communication, set the ground rule in effectively dealing with customers. If we make it our goal to ensure our customers are happy, right from the very first meeting, then we will have a successful business.
Key phrases such as “how can I help you?”, can lead to the customer explaining to you what they want and will appreciate direct answers in a language they can understand. Being honest maintains your integrity. I have been in many situations where I did not know the answer to what a customer was looking for. In these incidences, I simply informed them I didn’t know and would find the answer for them. I then kept the customer apprised of what I learned. If we thank the customer for their business, then we are sending the message that we appreciate and maintain their business. I feel that if we neglect being appreciative, customers will feel deceived and used, and creates ill will and negative advertising for your company. Sincerely proving you care about your customers leads to recommendations and repeat sales.
Most unsatisfied customers will never come right out and tell you they’re unsatisfied. They simply leave quietly, later telling everyone they know not to do business with you. So when a customer complains, don’t think of it as a nuisance, think of it as an opportunity to change that customer’s mind and retain his or her business. Even if you receive complaints, you can learn from them. You can learn a lot from a customer if you let them vent their feelings. Encourage them to get their frustrations out in the open and don’t argue with them. Share your point of view as politely as you can and take responsibility for the problem. Take action immediately to remedy the situation. Empower your front-line employees to be flexible in resolving complaints and ensure they are fully aware of your business policies.
In this report, I discussed my opinions about the business philosophy of ‘the customer is always right’. I discussed my thoughts and feelings on this subject and the steps I will take to enhance my customers’ experience. I finally discussed the strategies I thought provided a more useful alternative to the subject. There might be a difference in what people want and what they actually do; regardless, it is very important to listen to your customers. It is extremely important to know what your customers really want and treat them with courtesy, respect and honestly. Ultimately, they are the ones who visit, revisit and recommend your business to others.
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