There are moments in our careers where we can pinpoint a defining moment of where you learned something that could change the way you do things moving forever. I had one of these experiences when I was in retail sales for Verizon Wireless. I was standing with then, general manager, Sean, and he was dealing with an angry customer. Sean was a well-groomed, well-spoken individual with a military background that translated in the way he dealt with others around him. He was always to the point and in command of the environment around him. He was short and because of his military background, I would call him Napoleon. Never to his face, nor to anyone else but that’s what I thought of him.
The customer was very upset and yelling. The situation was escalating quickly because the customer believed something was wrong with their phone but we knew it was a “user error” and not the fault of the company. That’s when I experienced one of those moments that changed me forever. The customer screamed, “Don’t you know the customer is ALWAYS right?” Sean, stood perfectly straight, which brought him up to 5’5 easily, looked the customer directly in the eye and said, “No, sir. I don’t believe the customer is always right and in fact, I believe customers are regularly wrong.” I stood there as shocked as the customer wondering if Sean was prepared to have an all out fist fight with this angry customer that’s easily 10 inches taller and looking as bewildered as I was. A few seconds of silence passed as the customer continued to look at Sean trying to decide his next course of action. Sean was the first to speak, “We are people and people make mistakes. That means customers make mistakes. Now, I can help you. But it will take both of us being calm and working together to meet our goals. Your goal is to understand and have a fully-functional device, and mine is for you to leave have met those goals for you.”
The customer calmly addressed Sean and said, “What can you do for me?”
From that day forward, I knew I would never live by the words “the customer is always right.” Customers or even Clients are wrong regularly. We need to address them as people working together to accomplish a goal. I would never take the chance of making a customer angrier by yelling the customer is wrong but I will look for opportunities to allow them to understand their mistake so we can work together to accomplish their goal. Just as if the customer is wrong, we can be wrong sometimes.
If you work with customers, remember, they aren’t always right. Help them accomplish their goals and be honest with them. There’s a reason honesty is the best policy even if they don’t like it.
Photo Credit: http://www.partycentersoftware.com/