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Monday, December 5, 2011

Customer Service Silliness

The customer is always right--false! If that were true you could be caught red-handed stealing an item in a store and as long as you say you already paid for it you will be let go without any penalty. You may even get a small gift on the way out for your trouble.

That line that customers use to manipulate is seen as a trump card in their eyes. The problem is, when ever I've seen a customer play that card it's always rejected. Why? The only people stupid enough to use that line are the people who know they're trying to work the system. Just when they think they can't win, they think they found a way to back the business they're up against into a corner. However the business has every right to tell them no!

It's more of a sign of weakness on the customer's part. They're basically saying, this is the last chance I'm giving you. They say it like they have some sort of pull when in fact the employee dealing with them would love for the customer to leave.

I worked for a fast food company a while back. During orientation they tell you there are two rules to customer service: First, the customer is always right. Second, if the customer is wrong, see the first rule. This is all fine and dandy in the training room where the trainers have their own world where everything is perfect and clear-cut. But outside of these doors lies the real world where most of the time situations fall into a grey area.

For example, I was working the drive-thru and this big order was on the screen. We had an automated drink dispenser that took care of the sodas for you. You just put a lid on the drink and hand it to the customer. There were about five drinks for this order. When the car arrived at my window I handed this lady the drinks and left to get the food. It wasn't ready yet so I got the drinks for the next order. The lady handed me a drink and insisted she didn't order it. I told her all the drinks she ordered and she still insisted she had an extra drink. Because "the customer is always right", I took the drink from her and I left to get her food. I came back with the food and she told me that in fact the drink she would not accept is actually something she is finally willing to admit that she did order. Because "the customer is always right" I was able to get her the drink.

If this philosophy is correct, was she right the first time, the second time or was she right at all? There are major flaws in what I see in this magical phrase. First, in my experience the customer is hardly right.

And getting back to the training, I don't believe anyone followed that rule. Well, maybe they did if someone wealthy was complaining, or if they were a mystery shopper.

Working in banking offers plenty of interesting situations. I haven't heard that "trump-card" phrase there... ever. That doesn't mean the customer isn't thinking in that frame of mind. If something doesn't go their way they say something like, "well, can't you...". Usually that phrase ends with something that would break the rules set up by corporate, or even the government. Sometimes I would love to tell a customer, if you want that to happen you can write a letter to the leader of our country and when he says it's okay, I would be more than happy to help you with that.

The other phrase you hear in banking from the customer is, "...or I'm taking my money from your bank." Usually when I hear that it is something we can't help them with. Either our hands are tied by rules or regulations or what they're demanding is just not possible.

I have more banking stories to tell in the future! There's some good ones!

There are customers who are never satisfied. Even if we did follow that first rule in customer service, it wouldn't be good enough. I've seen situations where the business bent over backwards to help the customer and the customer says that the business is being greedy or mean. Those are the customers you are glad to see leave!

I choose not to follow the rule, but that doesn't mean I don't give the customer the benefit of the doubt. I just choose to follow the rules and regulations of the company rather than follow a rule that could get me in trouble, or worse, the company in trouble! Besides, losing your job over a philosophy is lame!

1 comment:

  1. Dale Carnegie, a super salesman who became rich, not only in sales, but with his Dale Carnegie Institutes worldwide and his amazing book sales.
    made "the customer is always right" a famous saying, but if you read "How to Win Friends and Influence People", his most famous book, you would learn how that saying was to be used.

    It was really how you treat a customer and if that customer is really not in the right, how to deal with him/her. He claimed that if you at first agree with the person, then reason with
    the same, that customer will listen to your case, but if you immediately contradict, then the customer will not admit wrongdoing.

    Carnegie advised his readers to use common sense, just as you mentioned about a customer caught in the act of stealing.


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