The Customer Is (Not) Always Right

When I was 15 I picked up my first job. I was a bagger at Kroger, a local grocery chain. It wasn’t glamorous. It wasn’t anything, really, other than a paycheck. That job, and the other retail jobs I had through high-school and my early college years, always started with one of those cheesy customer service training videos.

You know the one: It’s over-acted, usually contains some MIDI background music, and of course, was filmed in 1986.

And one message is driven home more than any other. No, not that you should have offered Mrs. Thomas a Blockbuster VIP card.

It’s the message that the customer is always right.

But having run my own business for a couple years now, that message couldn’t be further from the truth.

The customer isn’t always right. In fact, sometimes they’re wrong, and sometimes you have to tell them that.

Any entrepreneur or business owner will tell you that business is a partnership. With customers, clients, suppliers, agencies, and staff. Successful businesses establish, build, and nurture relationships.

Clients and customers may claim to be right. All the time. They’re not. Keep in mind that they’re human, too. And that none of us, not even the one’s writing your paycheck, always know best.

The trick is to keep an open mind, but remain confident in your expertise. That may involve disagreement. That may mean saying “no” when someone expects you to say “yes”. But when you start compromising yourself for the sake of appeasing someone else, you’ll only lose your own identity in the end.

Listen. Don’t get emotional. Know when to say “no”. Be willing to compromise, while unafraid to stand your ground. And above all, listen.

You’ll find that customers don’t always want to be right. They just want to be heard.

(Photo credit)