So, is the Customer Always Right?

“The customer is always right.”

“The customer is always right.”

“The customer is always right.”

When I first heard those lines, it sounded disturbing to me. At the age of 16, I got my first job experience working behind the cashier’s counter of a famous fast food joint (read: McDonald’s).

I remembered sometimes getting ridiculous requests, customers mentioning the wrong name of the meals when they actually wanted something else. And somehow, somehow… the customer was always right. And somehow, anyhow… it was my fault. It was my fault because I punched in the order that they didn’t want (hey I just take orders), there was salt in the fries and because McDonald’s doesn’t serve the same chicken as KFC’s.

At the rash young age of 16, it was natural of me to snap back at those ridiculous customers – something you don’t always see at McDonald’s – only to be lectured by my floor manager in the staff quarters.

“You’re a good employee Edmund, but the customer is always right.”

This scenario didn’t change much when I took on my next full time job in a chemical manufacturing company. My former boss chose his customers above his work force, even when a small slew of his customers were obviously “bad apples”.

You see, if you keep bad employees then you’ll drive away the good customers. And if you keep the bad customers – not only will you drive away the good customers, your good employees will be gone in no time too.

Now are things any different in the shoes of an Internet Entrepreneur? I may be working for myself now but bluntly speaking, not quite.

Have Any Of These Ever Happened To You?

  • Getting ridiculous refund requests from customers (and you know it IS ridiculous).
  • For anyone selling products on ClickBank: you have people getting refunds for no disclosed reason. They got their money back AND your product.
  • Get unpleasant emails from customers who are making unreasonable requests from your product or service that you render.
  • Have customers who are quick to label you as a con-man before you could move a finger and are threatening to defame or sue you.
  • Non-paying customers asking you a lot of questions via helpdesk or email.
  • People buying your product with the intention of forcing you to do a Joint Venture with them, and on their terms, because they are already your customers therefore it seems obligatory.
  • If you answered YES to any of the above – high five, we’re on the same boat. NO? You’re either super lucky… or you’re not making any solid money yet. While this is expected to be parts and parcel of business of any kind, I personally found it that some recurring situations and scenarios are unique to the Internet Marketing arena.

    For one common example, we have people using the tire-worn excuse “I didn’t have the chance to use the product therefore I want to ask for a refund”. There’s a ghostly chance of that happening in the off-line world, and usually what constitutes a valid reason in asking for a refund is if the merchant fails to deliver what he promises or that the product is not good/damaged.

    Also, most people who are entering the world of E-Commerce as individuals are usually motivated by desperation. Thus it is also not uncommon to find people asking for their money back because of their bad financial circumstances.

    So Is The Customer Always Right?

    That depends.

    Are human beings perfect? Nope. Are customers human beings too? Yeah, definitely. So, can they always be right? Not always.

    I know this is an ironic catch-22 situation because as business owners, we need customers to keep our operations running, pay our bills, and we’re in it for profit, aren’t we?

    But after having conversed with several business owners from different fields – and who are obviously more experienced than I am – they all agree one one thing: don’t just get any customer.

    We always hear of consumers demanding for their rights, asking for whatever they are entitled to, and go as far as forming consumer bodies within their societies. Which is a perfectly fine thing to do to protect themselves from fraudulent merchants?

    But what about the rest of us who are in business? We face the same problems as customers do in one area of effect: bad customers.

    The Origin of the Phrase “The Customer Is Always Right”

    My research suggests that the phrase was originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909. The quote was used to convince customers that they will get good service at this company while also convincing employees to give customers good service.

    Good Customers, Bad Customers

    Just as with people, there are good people and the bad guys, nice people and not-so-nice people. While the good news is that in general, most customers are honest, polite and have well intentions – there is a small fraction with the potential of giving one an unpleasant experience, enough to spoil the day.

    The tell-tale signs are usually similar: making unreasonable demands and saying along the lines of “it’s my right” or “I’m entitled to this” (don’t you just hate those words?) and “If you don’t meet my demands then I will publish about your rotten service on HubPages, Squidoo, Twitter… and did I leave anything out?”

    What Do I Do When I’ve Encountered A Rotten Customer?

    Being offended by nasty remarks from a customer is a natural knee-jerk reaction for many of us Internet Marketers and business owners. The first thing to do is examine if there’s any truth in what he or she is saying, and why possibly could he or she say so.

    It might be a genuine fault on your part, who knows?

    Maybe you over-promised and under-delivered. Maybe your sales copy is sending a wrong message and perception to your customers (this is quite common actually). Examine all possible angles that it might be an innocent error on your part that is causing discomfort on your customer’s side.

    However if the customer is downright rude and making unreasonable demands of your service, remember that even as a paid customer he has no right to hurl abuse at you.

    In such event, don’t be afraid to exercise your decision in firing your customer (who says firing is just for employees?). It’s plain simple as said before: if you favor your bad customers over other customers and your staff, your good customers will go first. THEN your employees. And THEN your bad customers after you find out you can never please them.

    If someone threatens you or is giving you a hard time, just say along the lines of “sorry but I have to let you go” and in exceptional cases, if refunding their purchase will keep them away do it. It’s not worth keeping a $37 sale and not be able to sleep at night. It may mean losing their business but you get to sleep better and keep your mind in a healthy frame so you can pursue more business with a better class of buyers.

    DON’T SCREW THEM BACK: like most of us, I admit that screwing those losers seemed like a perfectly nice thing to do. But more often the problem is that this will just give the bad customers “ammo” to fire back at you. And if it is in writing like email or letter, they will have something to hold against you. Stay polite and keep professional. Not an easy thing to do but remember about your career’s future, your other good customers, and your partners.

    Another plus to this is that since you’re polite, they cannot have anything solid against you and would think twice about publishing about your business publicly (because others can clearly see what a nice person you are… and what a jerk he or she is!) And if you’re thinking of the possibility that they can fabricate the story, this is where keeping copies of your email correspondences pay off so that you can defend yourself.

    The “It’s My Right” Mentality

    You will find that this is a favorite line some of these rotten apples stick to. Firstly, it’s perfectly right for a customer to get what he or she deserves from a product or service. Things like good customer service, get your product delivered on time, getting warranties, etc.

    But remember also that he or she is not entitled to taking up your personal time (unless you’re in the coaching business), getting the rest of your stuff for free, abusing your helpdesk and support, and certainly not walking away with your spouse!

    So is the customer always right? If you still think they are, then be prepared for sleepless nights!

    Source by Edmund Loh

    Disclaimer: Active links in article are done by The article author did not include or endorse these active links.


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