Customer Advocacy | 7 MIN READ

“5 examples that prove: The Customer is not always Right”

Finding the right customer might not always be easy. Here are 5 examples that clearly prove that a customer may not be always right in the first place.

Simran Mohanty
Jun 2, 2020

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It is almost like an over-used dialogue from the movies that “the customer is always right”. You will be surprised to know that some companies rely on the aforementioned so much that they build business models off of it.

Coined by Harry Gordon in the nineteenth century, it now seems more like a tried-and-true principle for rendering good customer service. These days, you can find companies going to ridiculous lengths to satisfy customers.

Nonetheless, following this a little too sincerely could be dangerous too. There will be times when you have to acknowledge that the customer is not always right. As a matter of fact, treating your customers in a way that they are always right always, could put you in some trouble. It can eat up resources, dampen morale, or even hurt the rest of you even loyal ones.

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Here are a few instances that prove that a customer is not always right:

Table of Contents

  1. When customers are ill-informed
  2. Customer opinions discourage you from improving
  3. Tale of Wrong customers
  4. Customers create unnecessary stress on the employees
  5. Customers drain more time and money

When customers are ill-informed

One such case that explains this best is the healthcare unit. Although doctors have a legitimate degree, patients often end up self-diagnosing themselves. Due to a fundamental lack of having a fir knowledge about the human body and disease, they make unnecessary suggestions to the doctors.

In fact, focusing on patient “satisfaction” leads to higher health costs and mortality rates compared to placing the emphasis on patient health. You must note that in just an example, where it is the question of someone’s life and death, pure diligence should be portrayed.

Remember not all customers deserve all your attention and efforts. In spite of what the old adage says, always do what is healthy for your company and what is right. In the world of customer stickiness, there could be good customers but then there is everybody else too.

Customer opinions discourage you from improving

When it comes down to choose between supporting your employee or rather an angry customer, pick your staff first. Let your customers know that while you value them enough not to lose them, your employees too are equally precious to you.

There could be rough times when your employee could have inadvertently done a mistake. In such a scenario, it is not the wisest to declare the customer as right. Support your staff while you provide them the right training.

While you strive to pacify the situation as much as possible, know that both are important to your business. It is a customer who passes the verdict and decides the goodness of your company, all of your workshops and training can go in vain if you fire the staff. Therefore, analyze the situation, choose when the customer is right or not, and take the right actions.

Tale of Wrong customers

Let me give you a situation here. A customer bought a sofa and wants a 100% refund on it that costs $500 due to it being uncomfortable. Now comfort can be a really subjective thing to decide. Something which is comfortable for you may not be the same for me.

Is this particular customer right in this case? The customer may simply be looking to get a full refund and better yet keep the sofa chair free of charge since many furniture sellers will not request the customer return the item. If the customer is always right in the above scenario, the sofa chair business would quickly lose expensive inventory without turning a profit.

You know your products the best? Is it you and your staff or it is the customers? Also, in any business know that there is a difference between a right and wrong customer. Not all the customers you get are worth shedding a dime for.

Customers create unnecessary stress on the employees

angry customer
Source

Putting faith in your employees’ abilities to solve problems and trusting their judgment makes them more likely to put customers’ needs first in their everyday interactions.

 In his book “Happy Hour Is 9 to 5,” Alexander Kjerulf says that “believing the customer is always right is a subconscious way of favoring the customer over the employee, which can lead to resentment among employees. When managers put the employees first, the employees will then put the customers first. Put employees first and they will be happy at work.”

Or the better solution is you can act like you have complete expertise over the product. You can tell them how you have spent a good number of years in your career with the same product at concern. This could change the ball game altogether.

Customers drain more time and money

Some customers aren’t always good for your brand, and that is the truth. You cannot accept it until you accept that they are not always right. In Timothy Ferriss’s book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” he recounts how letting go of the difficult customers who ate up all of his mental bandwidth allowed his business to finally soar.

And that is why, believe it or not. there will always be some customers who you are better off without. If you have a customer who keeps nagging, abuses employees, or causes an action that drains your much invested time and money – they are not worth it.

Funnily enough, there could be times when you will have to ‘fire’ a customer to protect your staff. If that is what the situation demands, do not take a backseat. If you are planning to stick around the business for a long haul, you really do not need such customers.

What can be done?

  • Hear them out: It is a given that a customer wants to be heard. For starters, begin by giving people individualized attention. Connect and associate with them on a one-to-one basis. In simpler terms, reach out to them personally. In such a case, practicing active listening can do great wonders.
  • Start taking ownerships: Your business is in your hands. It is not even about who is right and who is not. However, a customer’s anger reduces when they meet a rather human interaction, something that shows them that their concerns are being addressed.
  • Exceptional Customer Service: It is not impossible to convert a huge detractor into a raving fan. Although it is easier said than done. Having exceptional customer service serves the purpose here. When your service itself does all the talking, you should be assured to see a decline in the attrition rates. A good service will take care of things by itself thereon.

Final Take

Goes without saying, you and your staff must strive to deliver excellent customer service. Not all customer is always wrong. As a service provider, ensure that you provide the best of all to your customers so that you get an A+ in your performance and learn to handle the case.

However, if you acclimatize to the ‘customer is always right’ policy, you could actually be hurting your business. You give empowerment to the rude customers, take a notch down on innovation, and eventually end up creating unpleasant experiences for other customers as well. Encourage your staff to go the extra mile with the customers without also enabling rude customers to take over.

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Originally Published June 2nd, 2020, Updated December 30th, 2020

Simran Mohanty

Simran hails from the content marketing backdrop with extensive knowledge in blogs, articles, and technical whitepapers in the non-fictional domain. She uses her 'gift of the gab' to explore new possibilities on her way and to make an exquisite impact on her readers. In her spare time, she likes to read journals on artificial intelligence or play with her cute kittens.

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