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Is My Customer Really Always Right…Even if They are Ignorant?

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in The Wrong Question

This mantra has been the foundation of customer service for years.  It is more relevant today, even with a client who is completely unreasonable.  

Today, more than ever, this question completely misses the point. Better Question:  What do I do with this walking, talking  marketing message?whisperRecognize with the interaction in question you are creating an advertising message, and the best one available to you.  You've heard forever and know to be true that the best form of advertising is word of mouth.  It is critical to recognize, that if you are asking this question, a couple things have probably already occurred.

For some reason your customer is unhappy.  Happy clients are always right, because they like us and our service.  Those people may tell others and may not.  This person who you are asking this question about is certainly going to tell others.  Recognize this opportunity for what it is, the opportunity to create a word of mouth advertising message.

Ramon De Leon, a Domino's Pizza owner realized he had a customer with wide reach and offers one example of how to apologize on this video.

There are several benefits to this recognition.  First, you are engaged in conversation with your customer and that is alone is valuable.  They may be upset, which means they are going to provide honest insight to your shortcomings, which is rare.  Honest feedback provides the chance to improve some aspect of your company, improve your policies in some way or fix a recurring problem, so listen intently.  Regardless of any internal changes, remember you are designing and important advertising message that will generate new clients in the future or cost you business.

Good listening skills will diffuse most situations.  People want to be heard, respected and made to feel like their opinion matters.  Do not diminish the impact of good interpersonal skills.  An important research study in 2001 proved that better physician bed side manners significantly reduced malpractice claims.  People want to be heard and respected.

Perhaps you've averted bad publicity but what can you do to get them to talk and tell others?  It may not take much, but give this question as much thought  as your other marketing efforts.

I am a creature of habit.  For the past 12 years Billy has cut my hair on the first Wednesday of each month (3:30pm).  When I arrived last week, I was told a) he was out for the entire week and b) (with a bit of condescension) they had called me to tell me a couple days ago to let me know.  So, not only was I leaving with long hair and not getting an apologizing, the entire mix up was my fault!

Guess what?  Turns out there are dozens of places in town that will cut my hair.  One is right next to my gym and Linda did a great job for $10 less.  I've even made an appointment to go back there next month.

Now, what if I got a call just after I walking out (my cell number is on file) with an apology?  What if they also offered a free conditioning treatment with my next visit or $10 off or a $5 Starbucks gift card with their apology.  I would feel like a respected, long time client and am much more likely to tell others about how well they treated and forget the broken Wednesday appointment.

I would not have taken much and certainly would have cost less than acquiring a new client.  However, rather than converting me into a positive advertising message walking and talking about town, I'll get my hair cut at the new place next month...

You see, it does not matter if they called to notify me or not, what matters is the advertising message I now carry forward.

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