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Time to rethink “the customer is always right”


Customer care center employees need to have the power to recognize when consumer makes a mistake.

Customer care center employees need to have the power to recognize when consumer makes a mistake.

The concept behind the common business expression – “the customer is always right” is sound. You want to respect your consumers’ opinions and provide service that keeps them satisfied. The problem is, in actuality, the customer is sometimes wrong.

Inc. suggested there are numerous situations where the customer doesn’t understand the product as well as the business or simply wants to disagree for the sake of arguing. These examples, however, are normally outliers.

While the expression may not apply across all cases, it shouldn’t be thrown out completely. Modern customer care centers should recognize the benefits of traditional best practices and make room for exceptions and innovations.

The problem with assuming the customer is never wrong
There are no absolutes in the business world. Companies can’t throw investments at a philosophy that doesn’t allow for exceptions or new ideas. Assuming the customer is always right is not only problematic for your operations and employees; it can also hurt your consumers.

You don’t want your employees to spend time on an obvious mistake, so why would you ask them to allocate resources to satisfy a customer who’s in the wrong. Forbes said putting the customer’s opinion ahead of your employee’s drives a wedge between management and frontline representatives. You have to give your care agents responsibility because empowered employees provide better service.

Treating consumers too cautiously could lead to confusion. Employees spend much longer on an engagement where they have to work around customer errors as opposed to pointing them out. Worse, care agents may try to satisfy management by telling consumers what they want to hear instead of what they need to know.

The customer is always right for the modern age
While assuming your customers are 100 percent correct won’t always pan out, it doesn’t mean there isn’t some wisdom in the strategy. Modern industry proves to be evermore customer-centric, and going slightly out of your way to recognize the value of consumer communications should prove rewarding if employed effectively.

Care agents should always start a conversation with a consumer by assuming the person making contact has an important reason for reaching out. Empathy is crucial to a successful resolution and it’s easier to help a customer when the employee is on his or her side. Even if the care agents recognize an error has been made, it’s best to assume the fault was on the company’s end. For example, if the customer wrongly assumes the product should perform in a certain way, it could be due to misleading or unclear marketing.

If a company tracks the few instances where the customer is wrong in some way, it can create new educational materials or business practices to prevent the mistake from happening again. A clear record of consumer engagements collected in a customer care management software solution allows you to see when it’s crucial to assume the customer is right.

The Harvard Business Review advised businesses to analyze audience data to see which customers are most important for the organization. Certain types of consumers will lead to repeat business, while others will cost you resources without a return. Knowing which customers really are in need of patience and which are looking for a fight can help you determine when to utilize this particular cliché.


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