If you’ve ever worked in customer service (everyone should!) you’ve heard your boss say that making the customer happy is key to delivering great service.
Though customer service is a key activity for all businesses, customer service is not a job people jump with excitement to do. Maybe because there are some ideas that have gone unchallenged for many decades that make it a not so great job!
I worked as a customer support representative for Verizon when I was in High School. I was pretty good at customer service, and was highly regarded for it. I can remember having maybe one or two bad experiences with customers who shouted at me over the phone because they were frustrated with their situation, frustrated because they were in a transfer loop and because they couldn’t hear what I was saying.
But I had colleagues who had bad experiences all the time, and those stories would become part of the lunch conversation. Most of these stories wouldn’t make sense because customers would just be mean to CSR’s for no apparent reasons other than just vent their frustration.
I remember one particular story where a customer told the CSR, “I really hope you’re not stupid like the other guy because I’m really pissed right now!”. As a CSR, how do you respond and deal with that?
Anyway, Verizon had some procedures and policies in place that created these conditions. I didn’t follow most all of them because I saw them as a waste of time for the customer, and I could troubleshoot faster by not following them. And two of those policies were wrong: the customer is always right and you should never argue with a customer.
These policies put CSR’s in a bad position because they put the customer in a pedestal!
Unpopular opinion: "The customer is always right" is one of the most toxic phrases in business and needs to be retired forever.
— Dan Price (@DanPriceSeattle) September 28, 2021
I agree with Dan. “The customer is always right” is wrong because there are wrong customers, it affects employee morale and productivity, it doesn’t lead to better service, not all customers are worth keeping, you can’t satisfy everyone and customers are human too so they will be wrong often.
The problem with “the customer is always right” is you put them in a pedestal where they can do no wrong. This puts CSR’s in a difficult position because companies are afraid of losing customers if CSR’s don’t suck up to them, which affects employee morale, productivity and drives people out. Now you have to replace a trained employee if he / she leaves, with another that you have to invest time and money to train to do the job; and then the process repeats itself.
So, what’s the solution?
Focus on your employees. If you want to deliver great service, treat employees like customers. Why? Think about it, employees help build your company from the inside, they create the products and services for customers, they interact with customers and deliver great service; they are your company. Why would you treat them differently from your customers?
Bottom line: You should always aim to delight customers, but not at the cost of drama and employee morale. A great employee experience equals a great customer service experience.