…because some thoughts are worth remembering
We’ve all heard the expression, “customers are always right”. It’s meant to reflect a corporation’s commitment to treating customers well.
But we also know customers aren’t always right. Assuming and treating the customer as if s/he were always right will quickly yield us more problems, especially in technical support department and in technical sales. Customers often describe their technical problems inaccurately, incompletely, or sometimes completely incorrectly. Technical support personnel must gather enough pieces of information from them with tactical posing of questions to narrow down the possible causes that resulted in interruption of service as customers perceived.
Even in sales calls, customers can often ask for “the wrong thing”, so skillful sales staff first assesses what the customer needs in terms of functionality and benefits they want by buying a certain product. The extra time invested pays off, because customers remain satisfied after the purchase, rather than getting buyer’s remorse. Is “customers are always right” a business myth?
So, the sentiment ought to be rephrased from “customers are always right” to “customers come first”.
At least that’s what I believed.
In reality, what I was actually practicing as an executive was slightly different than “customers come first”. I didn’t realize it until I read a quote from Richard Branson:
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.”
So, “customers are always right” -> “customers come first” -> “employees come first”.
But in reality, simply treating employees “well” doesn’t equate to better level of service provided to the customers. They need to be part of a larger vision that’s shared. Shared vision comes first, so that you can put your employees first who then will put your customers first, who then feel like they were treated like they were always right.
Photo: Famed Swan Oyster Depot on Post Street in San Francisco, where the folks behind the counter are very proud of their product they are serving, they can’t help but share that joy with their customers.