Is the customer always right?

There are these peculiar sayings out there such as the customer is always right, which was a phrase created by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London.  As an owner of a business, I take a step back and ask myself, is the customer always right?  This would be a hard no because I am occasionally a customer and I know for a fact I am frequently wrong.  At the same time, even if the customer is wrong, you will not want to trample over their feelings in the process of proving them wrong.  I would recommend easing into this slowly and if possible, try leading the customer to their own conclusions.  So, why am I talking about this and why should it be considered on http://www.civilaccomplishment.com?

As entrepreneurs and free thinkers we are going to want to understand what to do in a situation where the customer is in fact wrong.  Lets say the customer is very stubborn and disagrees with you.  Lets say you know you are right and the customer is wrong and maybe even very wrong.  By proving them wrong and crushing their ego, you could lose a sale and possible future sales from this particular person.  One technique I have stumbled upon over the years is acting slightly confused about the situation.  Start to ask whether your perspective is right and lead the customer into the correct train of thought.  Talk out loud and ask many questions about the situation to provoke thought.  This will get you and your customer on the same side of the issue, even if you are not yet sharing the same answer.

You may also want to let the customer do 50% to 75% more talking than you.  Remember, the most talkative person in the room is not always the smartest person.  Once your customer starts poking holes in their position on the topic, you can lean in further to sway them to your side of the fence.  You may say, “that makes sense and I also think it makes sense that…” and fill in the blanks.  You will want to stay away from immediate confrontation because a customer will instinctively oppose everything you say once he/she determines you are not sharing the same opinion as them.  The purpose of getting the customer to the same opinion as us, is so we can build that relationship and make sure they continue purchasing from your business.

These techniques can be used in a situation when a customer does not like the product or service you provided.  You need to get to the bottom of their complaint, so you can satisfy their needs and hopefully they will return.  A loss of one customer does not always mean a loss of just one customer because people talk.  A loss of one customer could actually equal 20, 30, or more future customers.  This can be very devastating to your business.  So, I do not believe the customer is always right.  I do believe we can work with the customer to find a solution that works for them.  Business is all about increasing sales year over year, building relationships with customers, and providing great services/products.

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