The Customer Isn’t Always Right (and What to Do About It) Tips for Creating Teamwork by Mark Sanborn

This is a great article from Mark Sanborn. I love his advice…You have permission to tell a customer where to go- after you hang up the phone. Enjoy! Angela

The Customer Isn’t Always Right (and What to Do About It)
Tips for Creating Teamwork
 
We take many things for granted. We’ve heard certain sayings so long and so often and they sound good so we accept them as true, even when they’re not.
 
Here is a favorite example: The Customer Is Always Right. Whoever first came up with that one never met very many customers.
 
If you have contact with customers you know that this saying just doesn’t ring true. Sometimes customers are rude and demanding. Occasionally they are just plain wrong. 

So where does that leave us? Well, the customer may not always be right, but they are always “the customer.” Since I believe in the power of and essential need for superior service, I define the customer like this:
 
“The customer is someone who has paid to be treated with dignity and respect whether or not they deserve it.”
 
In other words, when we take someone’s money and they become our customer, we either need to treat them well or give them their money back.
 
Here are three ideas for dealing with customers, even when they aren’t right:
 
1. Maintain your sense of humor.
 
I asked one of my early mentors the secret of being successful in business.  His advice was direct:  First, be willing to put up with your customer’s problems, complaints and grief.  Business is about being paid to deal with other people’s problems.  Secondly, he said, “Remember what I tell my salespeople: They have my permission to tell a customer where to go–as long as they hang up the phone first!”
 
Frank Clark said, “The next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.”
 
2. Turn it into a challenge.
 
It’s easy to be nice to nice customers.  The challenge is to be nice to customers who aren’t.
 
Treat difficult customers as a challenge.  See if you can convert them with kindness.
 
Many years ago I had a client that operated an airport service center for general aviation customers. They had a pilot who was a regular customer but who was always a grump. They formulated a strategy to make him smile. They had a plan to amuse and delight him. They gave him inexpensive but thoughtful gifts. Eventually they won him over. But just as importantly, they had fun doing it.
 
3. Take your work very seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.
 
According to a Sioux Indian saying, the first thing people say after their death is, “Why was I so serious?”
 
There is absolutely no reason not to have fun when serving customers, even when it becomes difficult or challenging. Quality, accuracy, timeliness and value are all serious aspects of great customer service, but they can be achieved and even enhanced with the appropriate spirit of fun.
 
Remember, if you’re not having fun-enjoying yourself and your work-your customers aren’t having fun doing business with you.

The customer isn’t always right, but if you take care of him or her even when they’re wrong, they’ll notice and keep giving you their business.

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