The Customer is Not Always Right

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The rule the customer is always right is not actually true, sometimes the customer can be very wrong and not understand the information clearly, be blatantly rude or just disrespectful.

The key in these cases as a company is to make sure you are professional, courteous and handle the situation without being baited into responding in a way which could reflect negatively on your organization. 

You should always approach the situation with the intention to remediate and resolve to make both the customer and your organization happy considering the alternatives if the situation escalates or customer continues to be unhappy and what can come from it.

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Never however let a situation roll you over to where you are making a bad decision for your business or being bullied into something that genuinely isn’t a fault.  I remember a story once told to me where a customer walked into a fast food type of restaurant with an expired coupon and demanded that it be valid and accepted.  They were rude about it, and the coupon wasn’t a day or two missed but months old.

The company offered a current deal and discount instead, but would not honor the expired coupon and wound up losing the business from that customer who threatened never to return.

Do you think the company did the right thing?

Would you honor an expired coupon and get some customer business or stand fast and reject honoring and take the chance of losing the customer?

I am not saying one decision or the other is the right move every time, but considering what may happen from either scenario in a split decision is key.  Would the customer try to use expired coupons again and abuse the system, or would the more likely come back and become a repeat customer if you let them use the expired coupon that one time?

I have always had the personality type to give people the benefit of the doubt, but fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.  I think in this example I would have probably let customer use the coupon, in this case more potential value in allowing than rejecting.

This isn’t always the case however, and this was a minor example imagine if a customer bought your eBook and hated it, but waited 3 months to say they want a refund, not 1 week, not 30 days but 3 months.  You refused to provide it and suddenly a blast of negative comments about your eBook and yourself as brand were splashed all over social media, this is a potential PR issue that you have to deal with but in this case I would not stand by the refund.  There has to be a set rule because they had time to read, copy, share that information, they can’t return an e-book and if you only had 1 e-book they wouldn’t likely be a repeat customer anyway.

Have you ever had to deal with an unhappy customer and decide the customer is not right and stand fast in your decision, or in what circumstance did you make the customer happy even if it was against your initial judgment to do so?

Updated: January 20, 2013 — 8:00 am