Petes Weekly: Is The Customer is Always Right?

The Customer is Always Right?

This adage has been drummed into each of us since we learned to read. It is absolutely true. But it does not mean that the customer is never wrong.
Lets start with the most important issue on the table. The customer, the person you so desperately want to fight with right now, is the person helping you pay this months bills. Whether she is right or wrong is not the question you should worry about. Rather, “how can I keep this relationship working?” is the question you should worry about.
In this sense, the customer is always right. In her mind, at least, so do not try to tell her that she is wrong. (She won’t believe you.)
You can gently point out some issues that she may not have thought about. But your objective is to salvage this relationship.
Some years ago I let rip at Porter Motors, who had just sent me a final demand. I called the boss and flayed him verbally for about ten minutes. I was a young fellow full of indignance. He was an older gent, full of wisdom. Instead of calling me an arrogant plick, which I deserved, he listened to me until I stopped.
And then he said, “Mr Carruthers. I can hear how angry you are. And I understand why. I am going to chat to my team as soon as we end this call, and as soon as I find out exactly what has happened I will call you right back.”
Ten minutes later he called back. “Mr Carruthers, I am embarrassed to tell you this, but it seems that we have not been paid for the Mazda we serviced six months ago. We have sent invoices each month, and reminders, but we have not received any response. Could the possibility exist that this might be lost in your system somewhere…?”
He was gentle, and I was so wrong.
My secretary had overlooked the first invoice, and the second, and then been too embarrassed to sort out the third, and…
I learned a great lesson. The relationship is always more important than any single sale, or any single problem.
Warm regards Peter Carruthers


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