Small Business Customer Service Advice

Is The Customer Always Right?

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

The customer is always right. Or so we are led to believe. But what about when they aren't? Sorry, the customer is always right. Even when they seem to have come from hell. Here are a few tips on how to apologize to a customer.

Without your customers you don't have any one to sell to and you don't have a business so it's imperative that you keep them happy.

Is The Customer Always Right

Most of the time this is plain sailing, your clients are all reasonable people, they are more than satisfied with the fantastic products you offer and the top-notch service you provide. Occasionally though the proverbial spanner gets jammed right into the proverbial works and you get the customer who seems to be Satan's older sister. Is it all damnation and hellfire from there on in or must you remember the old-school advice about the customer always being right?

One Hiccup - One Nightmare Customer

So, it's happened. You've been in business a good while now and everything has gone smoothly. Suddenly there's a technical glitch and the product that was supposed to be delivered inside 24 hours hasn't been. Cue irate customer. The irate customer, you understand, has every right to be disappointed, but have they the right to be abusive to you or your staff? In truth, no, no-one has the right to be abusive to anyone.

Surely an apology will suffice?

There has been an error and that, in theory, is your fault. Now, you're a reasonable person, even in the face of the tirade of high pitched complaints you're receiving down the phone. You offer to rectify the situation and send out more product, straight away, by courier. What more can you do? To be honest, it might be that you'll have to do a lot more, even if you think that the disgruntled customer's demands for compensation are extreme given that it was an error.

Can You Afford Bad Publicity?

Weigh up the situation. The irate customer will be all over the internet writing poor reviews of your company before you know it. It's worth placating them. Without agreeing to sign over all your assets and pay their mortgage off you can offer recompense that won't kill your business. In fact, it could go in your favor.

Give Gifts and Apologize in Writing

Offer to refund the customer's money and send them the product as a gift. Put your apology in writing, and make sure a copy of the correspondence is kept. In the letter of apology, include vouchers or money off coupons. This will encourage the customer to stick with you even though they experienced disappointment. It's important to emphasis to the client that you value their custom.

Pay the Price - It's Worth It

Put aside any resentment you feel about the cost of placating your unhappy client. Yes it will cost you to send out free product and to offer discounts off of future purchases. But, the cost to your company's reputation if you don't compensate, could be far greater.

Don't believe tales you hear about bad publicity being good publicity. You want to avoid it if you can. Even if privately you don't believe it, act as if you do think that the customer is always right. And treat them that way.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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