The Customer Isn’t Always Right

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It’s one of those unquestioned truisms that the customer is always right, but there are a few exceptions to that rule that you may want to consider adopting.

For example, if a customer complains about a great employee, you want to be able to resolve the situation while making it clear to the employee that you’ve got their back, particularly if you think the customer is being unreasonable. You might lose a customer, but it could hurt more to lose a great employee or damage morale. Occasionally you’ll need to acknowledge that an employee messed up, but try to deal with it as constructively as possible. It might just be a good learning experience.

Return fraud is another area you need to watch. Have a firm return policy in place and put it on receipts and other customer communications so you’re not taking back used items without tags, for example. There are other ways customers can try to avoid paying or seek restitution, so be sure to have a written policy for those too.

Finally, there are some folks you just can’t make happy. If you’ve done your best and the customer still isn’t happy, occasionally you just need to apologize and say you can’t do any more than that. And be prepared to use that same polite, professional tone when they complain about you on Facebook or Yelp. It’s better to say you’re sorry and you did your best than to let public criticism sit unanswered.

Adapted from The Customer Ain’t Always Right at Small Business Computing.

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