The Customer is not always right!

Right Customer File photo

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 Source: Bennet Otoo

‘’I won’t do business with you again!!!’’

This is by far the most dreaded statement every customer service agent never wants to hear. What makes you get to that point is often poor customer service which results in unhappy customers. The common anthem for most managers which is often drilled into every customer service agent is ‘’THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT’’. To a very large extent, this may be true and has been widely accepted for so long. But have you ever considered, what if the customer is not always right? As we continue to celebrate customer service agents, Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online travel website assesses the other side of this age old myth.

Stubborn customers drain your resources

When you say the customer is always right, you automatically set the tone for a series of instances where nothing else matters than the customer's happiness. This sometimes does not play in your favour. Rather, your resources are heavily drained. First of all, your customer service agents will spend more time on phone trying to please that one customer who may not be right. This same amount of time could have been used to serve other customers and raked in more money for you than that one stubborn customer is bringing.

Secondly, more phone time means more phone bills as well as internet bills to serve and satisfy that one customer. Also, because customers know that they are the most important aspects of your business, they will never compromise. If that one customer is causing too many problems and draining too much resources, you may have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of letting that customer go. Should the benefits outweigh the losses, then you definitely should not waste any more resources on him/her.

However, there are certain customers who you must keep because you spend a lot to make them happy but you also gain much more by doing business with them. The key is this, every customer is important but do not allow some stubborn ones drain your resources. They may not be always right.

This ideology makes your agents see customers as enemies

Have you ever had a situation where your customer service agent is always unhappy and reluctant to serve certain customers? Even when they see a call coming from that customer, they don’t answer? This is possible when we drum home the fact that the customer is always right and instances occur when we make the customer service agent feel inferior to the customer. Often we hear things like, ‘’it is this customer that pays your salary’’ and ‘’ without these customers, you don’t have a job’’.

In the larger scheme of things, this may be true but always stressing on these makes your customer service agents have a certain level of resentments to customers who prove to be stubborn and less cooperative. Giving our customer service executives some level of confidence to handle issues as and when they arrive for the best interest of all three parties may be the secret to eliminating such problems.

Firstly, we should satisfy the customer but also take the interest of the company as well as the individual employee (CS agent) into consideration. When all three parties are happy with the outcome of a service then we have a great customer experience and much more benefits are derived by the company which in turn takes initiatives to improve employee satisfaction. Stubborn customers are not enemies! They just find it difficult to compromise and assist in solving problems. Every individual has a breaking point and when it proves futile to convince them, you know what to do from the first point.

Money isn’t everything. Not even close.

Of course! This may be the final point in this article but not the end of the whole story. There are several other factors that point to the fact that the customer is not always right and although we know it, we try to cover it because it sounds commercially immoral to say otherwise. Many businesses are tempted into believing that money is everything. Yes, money pays the bills, the salaries and every other thing and getting it in no matter what is the primary objective. However, sometimes public image, employee satisfaction, other customers and defence of your company’s vision or policies are very very important.

Never compromise your business values and ethics just because the customer is always right, because sometimes, they are not. Compromising and accepting to do what the customer wants even when they are wrong sets a certain precedence. The next time a similar situation occurs, they expect the same treatment and assume they are right to demand certain privileges even when they do not deserve them. All said and done, we should never see money as the biggest motivation when it comes to dealing with stubborn customers. In some instances, they may be right and we have to sacrifice or lose some money to make them happy. However, in some other instances, we should find other solutions either than incurring losses.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” - Bill Gates

The fact that your customers aren’t always right, doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Any customer or who is extremely difficult to satisfy is one that we learn from. This doesn’t mean you automatically have to keep them as customers even when they drain too much on your resources, but they serve as a reference point for future solutions to similar problems.

Columnist: Bennet Otoo