Is the Customer Really Always Right? No!
How do you handle a customer who is clearly in the wrong? People always tell you "the customer is always right" - but that is not always true. However, the way you treat your right or wrong customer is what will make a world of difference to your business success or failure. Remember - it's always a numbers game - and sometimes you must deal with a lot of no's and a lot of turkeys to get to the golden client.
Here are some dealings my associate and I have had to deal with, and how we handled it:
1. I got heavily chewed out because I didn't receive a fax reply from someone to whom I faxed paperwork to TWICE. She didn't check to see if her lawyer received my fax - only asked me if I had received the reply. I told her I hadn't, and it became "my fault" that her lawyer didn't reply to me. I faxed the papers out again, and she again chewed me out for her lawyer not replying. I was not given the lawyer's phone number to follow up with, so I could never follow through to see if the fax got through. It is the client's responsibility to "push" her lawyer to act, however, and not mine. So, she said she would take her business to another company.
I let her know that I did fax out the papers more than once, and I had no phone number to follow up with - if she would provide me with the phone number I would call, but ultimately it is her responsibility to get her lawyer to act. I told her I would work with her if she chose, but if she felt she needed to go elsewhere, so be it. I would be here if she ever needed my services. I suppose the client may be difficult to deal with, so perhaps I am better off. But I didn't try to burn any bridges in the matter. If she finds the same situation with the next company, maybe she'll forgive me (or just get angry at one more person). Whether she refers me to anyone else is not a goal at this point - the goal is to appease her enough that she won't try to tell people to stay away from my business - to try to cool her anger.
2. I emailed a reply stating that I was sorry I took a while (6 hours) to reply to an email. I told the person I had an emergency with my daughter and had to go to the hospital. I figured this person would perhaps understand that it was serious. Guess what reply I got? The email said "WHAT?? I'll just find another source."
OK, now I was taken aback by that. I thought a family emergency was a legitimate reason to excuse a less than prompt reply. I guess I will have to just say I was "out of the office." Or say nothing and just reply. Is 6 hours really that late a response? I think not, to tell the truth. But I did email back and tell this person that I can work with him if he would like, and will give him my full attention in the case. Again, I am just hoping I won't get him telling others not to use my service. (He obviously doesn't have kids or feel the same way.)
3. I had a potential client who was very happy with my attention and said he was going to use my services if I could match the price of a competitor. I got the "go ahead" to do this. The client got all the way to the signing process and suddenly decided to go with another company - and didn't have the courtesy to let me know. I know he got a "one up" better offer at the last - the other company wanted his business, so they scraped to make a better offer. It could have worked to his advantage to tell me - we might have been able to outdo that offer, as well.
That is life - the competition can be outright sneaky and can cause havoc in your day. Just smile, send a message to the client that you lost to let him know you will still give him or his friends the same service he enjoyed prior to the deal not working out, if he chooses to work with you again.
4. I gave an answer to a 2-part question and replied that the first part cannot be done as stated (it could not be launched on its own - one would have to launch a separate application within the program so it would work), and I answered the second part (which was an alternate choice that was better). The person replied that I had a "poor" response because I obviously didn't know "how" to do the first part.
Obviously, he was a "know-it-all" with an attitude. I just let that go, and not even to try to tell him I know "how," but it needs to launch in a different mode rather than directly. In any case, this person was just being a turkey, and some turkeys are not worth one's time to deal with.
5. We fixed a laptop and spent over 7 hours overall on it. It was so screwed up that it ultimately needed to be formatted and reloaded, but the owner had no driver disks or anything. We had to search for the components and find drivers to load. They needed to be done in a certain sequence, as found out after the loading, so we reloaded again. We charged a mere $225 for all the work - a low priced fix for what we did (we figured that a good part of the time was loading and downloading, so we were able to walk away from it on occasion). This is much less than any other repair shop would have charged for the troubleshooting and the formatting and repair. The owner blasted my associate for charging "too much" and called him names. It turned out that he wanted the fix for "free" even though he was quoted and updated at every step.
We just printed the bill and wrote the procedures involved. We gave the client his laptop and gave him 2 weeks to pay. We figured he'd not refer us to anyone (would we want to be referred as the repair team who does work for free?), but we didn't care. We also decided not to back down on the amount due because the customer was belly- aching so badly with no good reason - and it cost us our time to do the repair. We also decided we would not take on any more repairs from him, if that ever came up again. We also are placing new policies prior to taking on jobs.
6. There have been countless episodes of people planting an insect in their food, so that they could get comped a meal, or get on social media and shame the business.
7. One time, a customer came to the store to return an item, which was obviously several years old, and unlikely from the store, as the manufacturer label wasn't anything the store buys from. The store should not have to pay the customer a refund price, nor have to take the piece. The manager got creative, and just offered a small discount certificate for a future purchase from the store. To sum things up - there are difficult people out there, and some of them try to become your customers. There are some people who are simply having a bad day and they are lashing out without cause. The best thing to do is not necessarily apologize and tell them they are right - are still on their team, if they want, and leave it at that. The next person they try to work with will probably end up making them realize that you and your company weren't so bad after all. They just haven't found out that others don't give the same pricing or service or care - yet. Offer the person a discount of their next purchase from you. You might still come out ahead (and at the least, not come out "behind").
Oh yes - thankfully the bulk of our customers are considerate and appreciative. These other types are always the exception.