By Jody Devere, CEO of AskPatty.com
Ever since the phrase "the customer is always
right" was coined, it surely has been the bane of every worker whose title
includes the word "associate" or "representative." Though
front-line employees bear the brunt of customers’ requests, when it comes down
to it, we’re all in the customer service business.
Let’s take a moment to break down some of the most
pervasive myths of customer service, get into our customers’ heads for a
moment, and really figure out the best way to serve them and turn a problem customer
into a customer for life.
1. The Customer is Always Right. This
seems like the best possible place to start. Everyone knows the customer isn’t
always right, but if you’re smart you’ll never remind an irate customer of
The customer isn’t always right, but he or she is
always the customer. An argument about who is right and who is wrong isn’t
going to solve anyone’s problems. Calmly discuss the issue with the customer
if you keep a calm demeanor, eventually your customer will calm down too. Even
if you know your customer is in the wrong, take the time to fully investigate
their claims, and let them see you do it. The customer may end up being wrong
but if they feel their claims have at least been taken seriously, that goes a
2. Price is Most Important to a Customer. I see this
myth all the time in the auto industry. It’s very tempting to assume that price
is the most important metric to a customer, but that simply isn’t the case.
While many customers do have a budget to consider, and price certainly plays a
part, the overwhelming majority of customers, particularly in the auto
industry, are perfectly willing to pay more for quality products from honest,
reputable businesses. When things get tight, don’t cut prices; add service.
3. Being Friendly and Polite is Everything. You’ve kept
your cool, you’ve met every rebuttal and complaint with a smile and a nod, and
your customer still isn’t happy. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s
sometimes easy to feel like you’re at the end of your rope.
In the end, customers want results. You can be as nice
as you like, but smiles won’t diffuse a customer who didn’t get what they feel
they paid for. If you can’t solve their need, find someone who can, and make
sure the customer understands that you’ve done all you can. Make the
introduction to a manager, technician or owner, and do keep smiling but
always be listening to what the customer wants and do your best to deliver.
4. Front-Line Employees are Responsible for Customer
Service. We’re all in the customer service business, not just
the people on the sales floor and at the front desk. Good customer service is a
cultural thing, and your business’ culture starts at the top!
Don’t just hire, train, and forget it. It’s up to you
to set an example. Make sure customer service stays on your radar by not only
taking complaints and negative customers seriously but make a big deal out of
every piece of positive feedback you get, too. Make sure your staff knows how
important great customer service is to you, and strive to maintain the same
high standard to which you hold them.
5. Happy Customers Tell two People, Unhappy Customers
Tell six. I’m guilty of using this old cliche myself, but it’s
simply not true. At review sites like Yelp, we find that the overwhelming
majority of reviews are positive ones! Not only that, but when customers shop
for reviews, they aren’t looking for the negative ones. They want to know who
does great work, not who to avoid. Even one glowing positive review can have a
big impact and bring in new customers.