Is The Customer Always Right?


Last week I made an early morning trip to a seminar/book promo breakfast to promote my web site. After putting out flyers all over the place I took a moment to step in to the facility and caught a few moments of a morning with Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE.

As I stepped through the door, a question and answer session was in progress. A woman stepped up to the microphone and asked “Is the customer always right?”

Jack smiled and said, “You might not think so, and they may believe so, but if you don’t make it so, you’re dead!”

Jack, that is a pretty strong consequence. Dead. But let’s face it. Who will come to do business with you again after you argue with them about their dissatisfaction? I think most people will just go somewhere else.

Isn’t is just common sense that we let our customer complain and then make it right? Well for the business owner, we usually just grin and say ” what would it take to make you happy today?” but what about our employees?

If we have not taken the time to train our employees how to deal with an unhappy customer, how will they react when one attacks them with ” the food was cold and tasted like crap!” or “I only had it for three days and the wheel fell off!”

It is important that as part of training any employee who has contact with the customer they have training on dealing with complaints as well as how to work the register or take the order. As a business owner you probably have already thought of that. Is there a piece of this puzzle missing?

The missing piece might be empowerment. The employee can be trained how to be calm and not take complaints personally. But what if they are not empowered to take action and correct the problem immediately themselves? What if you have instructed them to get you if there is a problem and you are on your way to the bank to make a deposit?

In most cases an angry consumer will not wait for you to return.

This would mean that if your employee is not empowered to make a correction or offer a compromise to make the customer happy, you would lose their business forever. How much does it cost to get a new customer? How much does it cost to make them happy when they are dissatisfied? The difference on paper is staggering.

Therefore, as part of the training of a new employee, it should be taught what is possible to do to make a customer happy when they are complaining. A quick response to a problem is appreciated almost more than the actual solution in most cases.

You see in life, we are all customers at some time or other, and I don’t know about you, but when I am an upset customer, I am always right!

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