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Prior to starting my own business, I was always told the age-old quote, “the customer is always right”. Indeed, those sentiments do seem to empower and embolden customers, but I’ve come to see that although the mantra sounds great, it is hardly a winning approach to customer service. In many cases, the customer is often wrong, but you already knew that!

In today’s market, consumers are beginning to realize their power. They also are beginning to take advantage of their power, and that’s not such a good thing. I’ve had customers of Kiddy’s Kingdom order a service, allow it to take place in full, then call for a refund because (after tipping the performer), their relative didn’t like the attitude of the performer. Or the customer who accepted the service and 3 weeks later disputed the charge on their credit card, attempting to get their money back. Now, don’t get me wrong, 90% of customers are great, it’s the 10% that you’ve got to watch out for. But, that’s why you must create your Policies and Procedures manual or Terms & Conditions to protect yourself from those types. Just when you think they’re air tight, someone will figure out a new way to beat you, but that’s another story lol.

Now if your Terms and Conditions are tight, I’ve realized that holding firm to company policies and procedures offers stability to customers. That firmness may be an inconvenience from time to time, but will eventually gain their respect, and that’s what you want. Giving in to customer’s demands makes the company look weak and will most definitely lead to being taken advantage of often. That is not a reputation that you want to have. My father tells me story after story of his days at Kohl’s, a department store known to give refunds or Kohl’s Cash for items people haven’t even purchased, but you didn’t hear that from me. lol

Providing a refund-worthy experience is something all merchants want to avoid at all costs. However, their is light at the end of the tunnel, many of my most loyal customers (at one point) have had a bad experience. So it’s never over, no customer is lost forever. It’s in those moments we were able to show what we were really about. We’re all about Communication, Compromise and Cohesion, the 3C’s. We’re able to build stronger relationships with our most critical customers, and that’s fresh off a disappointing experience.

In my experience, customers want to be heard and understood. After listening thoroughly, they want you to take decisive action. That action is not always a refund. Thank God, because I despise giving refunds. Obviously, nobody wants to miss the mark with their customer’s. However, those opportunities can be very fruitful if handled appropriately.

So here’s my special customer retention method. I must warn you, it’s good! lol. Here’s how I suggest my staff to work with customer concerns. Always listen first, let them tell the story from their perspective. Let them get it alllllllll the way out. As they tell the story, I’ll attempt to find points to agree with them on, as many as possible. I’ll chime in on occasion with an “okay”, “I see”, and my favorite “I understand”. When they’ve completed the story, I’ll calmly recap their points of interest by saying, “so when the…., you didn’t appreciate…, I understand your perspective, so if we would have…., then you would have enjoyed the experience much better?”. “I apologize for not meeting your expectations. Here’s what we’ll do because we appreciate your business….When you call back, ask for me, I’ll make sure we take good care of you”. Most often, the customer is now much happier and is more likely to take advantage of the great care you’ve offered them in the future. It really works!

Keep in mind, the customer is not always right. Most often, their wrong. However, it is our responsibility to make them feel good about being wrong. It’s a must to humble yourself, because you need them to spread the word about having a great experience and relationship with you. You need them to stay in business.

Here’s the disclaimer. If your business sucks really bad, my methods will not make it better. So, focus on being great at what you do, and in the event you have an unsatisfied customer, employ my strategy, even when the customer is wrong.

Happy hustling!

Questions? Need help? Email me: floydphillipsco@gmail.com

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