Everyone in the business world has dealt with at least that one customer who while attending to them has made us grit our teeth. Those customers who we silently cuss behind. But we just have to satisfy them because, well because ‘The customer is always right’. This statement, however, could not be more wrong.
This mantra has been preached to employees so many times over and over. Even taught by learned learning and development coaches. This approach to customer engagement arose out of the “Treating the customer as King” theme that had dominated the “sales world”. But as we have always known, even Kings are wrong, that is why “to err is human”.
Treating customers as being “Always right” can be destructive for your company and here’s why:
Customers are not always right. Having a company culture built around this farce or employees who believe this to be fact is a huge injustice. Both to the management and to the employees as well. And here’s why:
Your resources are unlike the complaints of your dissatisfied customers, finite. Hence, you definitely do not want to be disproportionately spreading thin your resources. And why? just to satisfy customers who have a history of causing crisis. You have only so much to give and you can not give it all to insatiable customers. Yes, there will be complaints from customers, and its a hard yes for you to listen to them and try to solve their issues and manage the relationship. But most important is to know when to cut ties. When you focus resources on rational customers, you convert them into loyal ambassadors.
Founder of Zooki, Charu Singh shared ‘Businesses are not dependent on individual buyers. It is actually immature to spend all the energy to satisfy someone who does not intend to be happy. It is important to address the requirements of hundreds and thousands of other regular clients, and also show solidarity with the employees,’
The statement the “Customer is always right” when often repeated in the corporate world sends out one and only one message to the employees of companies that make this their mantra. That is “The customers are more important than you”, this can be rephrased as “Hey, whenever we pit you against the customer, the customer always wins, Ha ha”.
As Alexander Kjerulf put “Believing the customer is always right is a subconscious way of favoring the customer over the employee which can lead to resentment among employees. When managers put the employees first, the employees will then put the customers first. Put employees first and they will be happy at work”.
You would agree that there are times that Customers must get this message that though they are important they are not indispensable while supporting employees always pay extra.
Also, note that your employees are an extension of your company. They represent the entire business where ever they go. For a group of persons who can affect the customers’ perception of your company, they should be the management’s priority.
Finally, Not every customer is your customer.
The hidden truth of all customers is that they always have their own version of what a product should do or service should cover. This is why it is necessary to state in clear and simple language the scope, terms, and condition of a product or service. Not all customers are indispensable, and this is a fact that businesses must accept. Consistently irrational customers always add to the stress level of employees. They end up eating deep into available resources and must be let go.
Don’t be afraid to cut ties with customers or clients who repeatedly make unrealistic demands. Even those who consistently cause stress or friction. Rather than continually sacrificing your time, dignity and emotional health, focus your efforts on actively pursuing new customers or clients who respect your time and boundaries.
Customer feedback is a gold mine of data that will, of course, help you learn how to better serve them better as Bill gates put it “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.
NB: Resolution of conflict should not be thrown out of the window, complaints should be investigated thoroughly. However, the bigger picture should be in mind while taking decisions from investigations.