The Customer is Sometimes Right

Though somewhat under the radar, it appears as if Forrester Analyst Bruce Temkin recently launched a personal blog where he intends to cover customer experience and loyalty.  His most recent entry offers some interesting suggestions on how to treat customers.  As he suggests, it’s not always as black and white as the "customer is always right."

  1. “Right” is in the eyes of the beholder
    Enforcing a policy that’s in tiny print on the back of a sales slip may be legally correct, but that doesn’t make it “right.”
  2. It costs less to solve a problem than you think.
    Firms build models to figure out how much they’re willing to spend to solve a customer’s problem. But these calculations typically do not factor in the downside associated with bad word of mouth and the upside associated with good word of mouth.
  3. The best resolution is a quick one.
    If you’re going to fix a problem, you’ll get the most goodwill by doing it right away. Customer appreciate the pro-activeness and they don’t have to suffer through a period of anxiety.
  4. Not all customers are equal
    Don’t use the same rules for treating your most profitable customers that you apply to your less desirable ones.
  5. The customer is more often right than wrong
    If there’s any doubt; treat them like they’re right.

Bruce hits the nail right on the head, particularly with points 2 through 4.  Oftentimes, companies do get more caught up in the immediate cost of handling customer inquiries without realizing the potential revenue or long-term impact that they could be losing by brushing off their customers.  Also, identifying customer needs and status as soon as they connect with you goes a long way towards resolving their issues quickly, and delivering the right kind of service based on the individual customer’s profile and needs.