Agent Experience

Is the Customer Always Right?

The idea that the customer is always right is one of the cornerstone ideas of the American commercial system. In many ways, it drives both consumer expectations and the way businesses respond to complaints. However, companies have increasingly been reevaluating this perspective. Updating your company’s customer service policy to reflect a different position can impact the way your contact center and customer service agents interact with your clientele. Here’s a closer look at what business managers need to consider.

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Stay committed to excellent service. Just because the customer isn’t always right doesn’t mean your team needs to sacrifice their commitment to excellent service. For example, your Customer Service team should remain focused on always being polite, professional, polished, and timely. Whenever possible, they need to continue working hard to resolve customer service issues before they potentially damage the relationship with buyers. Even if you’re unable to deliver what a customer is requesting due to contractual concerns, make sure the professionalism of your customer service experience is never in question.

Evaluate if there’s a behavioral pattern. In online marketing, for example, “consume and return” is a common behavioral pattern. Businesses will create e-books, courses, and other materials to help educate customers—and seek to minimize risk with a return policy. However, if there is a pattern of purchasing these items and then trying to return them outside of the return window, for example, it’s important to evaluate whether these customers are worth it to your business’s bottom line. If a behavioral pattern suggests ethical issues on the part of the customer, it may be time to reevaluate their relationship.

Focus on the customers that matter most. In the book Customer Centricity, the author advises businesses to focus on the customers that matter the most. Do you know who your business’s most profitable customers are? For example, if a customer is extremely difficult and represents just a small fraction of your income, do they deserve the same level of attention as a VIP customer that drives 10% of your monthly cash flow? Every business has finite resources. Evaluate whether specific customers are worth expending yours.

Consider other stakeholders. If the customer is always right, this may create situations where that means other stakeholders—such as your employees—are in the wrong. Rather than automatically assuming every customer is right and that your team has made a mistake, evaluate how you can resolve customer service concerns without attributing blame.

Providing great customer service in today’s demanding business environment is no longer optional. However, achieving this goal does not require always assuming that the customer is right. Focus on the customers who add the most to your business, and create clear policies and procedures for delivering a great experience while also protecting your business and respecting a wide range of different stakeholders.