EXPRESSIONS INDUSTRY Opinion

Is the Customer Always Right?

“I’ve always had an issue with our belief that “the customer is always right” and after what I witnessed a few hours ago, I’m unsubscribing to the long held notion:

I was at the pedicure section of a beauty parlor, doing my hair and nails, when a customer decided to pick an outrageously loud and unjustified fight with the pedicurist who had just finished serving her, claiming she was mistreated and didn’t get what she wanted and insisting that she wouldn’t pay the full price. We were all there; no such mistreatment happened. The poor pedicurist was visibly shaken.

This client created quite a disturbing and uncomfortable scene. I could tell she and her slightly calmer friend were riding on the negative perceptions many have about their countrymen, to bully the spa out of their due earnings, knowing very well no wrong had been done to them. I refrain from mentioning their country of origin because I won’t help these two further tarnish the image of the country. Besides, I know several people from their country who are working round the clock to change these negative perceptions.

Out of desperation, the managers had to allow them to have their way so they could leave quickly… I was so shaken by the whole encounter. I had never witnessed such over-the-top drama over 50 GHS before.”

I recently came across the above post on Facebook by a young lady, Amazing Grace Lois Danso. Her statement actually prompted me to write this article. As a marketing professional with extensive knowledge in the areas of sales, telemarketing, and customer service, I can assure you that THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT. Customers are human beings and they make mistakes whether intentional or unintentional. Unfortunately, some customers use the notion of the customer being right to take advantage, like in the above real life scenario.

“The customer is always right”, has been the first rule of customer service we have been told for many years. However, it is not to be taken literally. The saying doesn’t necessarily mean the customer is indeed right. It is a caution, alerting business owners to pick and choose their battles while protecting their business and saving their time, energy and money.

Let me explain.

Before you decide to entertain an irate client and get in a heated argument ask yourself, “Will I rather have one happy/satisfied customer and lose 50GHS or do I want to lose more customers and more money?” In other words, should the shop owner or manager let the customer keep their 50GHS in order to defuse a situation which could have a negative effect on their business or argue with the customer, lose more clients and damage the reputation of their business? Even business owners, managers, store associates, and sales persons need to choose their battles.

I am sure you will agree with me on the statement that, no business owner wants a bad reputation. A determined customer with bad intentions can easily give a business a bad reputation whether or not they deserve it.

At one point or another, everyone has been a customer and customers like to stick together when it comes to quality services. One bad incident reported by one customer immediately triggers other customers to recall similar experiences causing them to sympathize with the ‘victim’. Unfortunately, in the above scenario, the only witnesses were the few people inside the beauty salon’s pedicure section, not the millions of people out in the universe and the digital sphere who did not witness the incident.

My advice to business owners and managers is to always PICK AND CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES.

In the above scenario, should the business owner lose 50GHS to an “unhappy/unsatisfied client” or lose 2500GHS to several customers who might never patronize their services because of one bad review or false review made by a disgruntled customer? Especially, in today’s digital age where news spreads like wildfire with very little or no investigation being done.

In her post, Amazing Grace made a suggestion to the managers of the hair and nail salon, that “they familiarize themselves with the closest police station and obtain the direct contacts of a few officers whom they can tell clients they would like to call to help settle all service disputes. I feel the invocation of the police – no matter how low our confidence in them can be – might get customers, either Ghanaian or Immigrant, who intend to avoid paying, to change their tune.”

While this is a great solution, is it worth the time and money or the frustration? Time is money and in most cases dealing with the Ghana Police Service can become a very long and tedious process, which could result in unwanted scenes. In any event, business owners should be able to defend the business they work hard to build. Ideally, it is about choosing your battles and deciding if it is worth your time, money and stress.

For the sake of your sanity and the business you own or manage, it is best to believe and treat the customer as though they are right, even when you know and believe they are wrong. In the end, it will cost you less money, save you time and effort and keep the reputation of your business intact.

At KUSI Consulting, we offer marketing services and customer service training. Visit www.KUSIconsulting.com for more about our services.

Article by Rita Kusi, CEO of KUSI Consulting

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