Is Customer Satisfaction The Goal, No Questions Asked? Rethinking The “Customer Is Always Right” Policy

Is the customer always right? This is running policy in most businesses, and in many situations, it protects customers from unfair or unsatisfactory service. Customers may be the lifeblood of business, but sticking to this unwritten rule can open a can of worms that affects employee morale. As an entrepreneur, you carefully consider which side you’ll take in disputes, between employees and irate customers; customer satisfaction is a primary goal of business, but it’s far from absolute.
If you’re still on the fence whether you should side with employees in an unfair dispute, here are three good reasons that should help you decide in your people’s favor:

1. Siding with customers (when they’re wrong) puts a dent on your employees’ morale.

You’re actually doing your people a disservice; even if the intent is to appease a disgruntled customer, it shows your distrust in your employees. It’s about weighing the tradeoff of giving customers what they want, against the possibility your people will lose confidence in you after your lapse of judgment. Diplomacy is crucial in conflict resolution, and you can build the concerned employee as you side with the customer in a complaint. Keep in mind that lip service to the customers’ dilemma only benefits your business for the short term.

2. Abrasive customers shouldn’t always have the upper hand.

They say that when you give someone an inch, the same person will demand a mile. Perception is a fickle thing, and the last thing you want to be perceived as is a patsy. You’re probably thinking of companies who buckled under the pressure of (negative) customer feedback, pulling products, doing recalls, offering refunds and rebates to compensate. The point is you need to establish your boundaries and protect it. Your front-line employees bear the brunt of the abuse, and the least you can do is call a bad customer out, on the spot.

3. Side with enough bad customers, and soon your employees will dish out sub-par service.

This could be out of disappointment or disapproval, expressed in ways short of a mutiny. Employees need to know their service and judgment is valued in the company; that’s why yo hired them in the first place. Sure, there are times when an employee is clearly on the wrong side of the dispute, but what about the gray situations and you need to investigate further? Bosses fail when they pick the customer’s side in effort to save face; it’s likely disputes and complaints will only increase, as discontentment spreads among the ranks.
The secret to good customer service is good employee morale; invest in your employees and they will pay it forward with excellent service. Consider your customers and employees as equal partners to your company’s success; ensure both are satisfied and the effort will pay off as you move along.

Elsewhere on this blog:

The Perks of Staff Leasing QA

Do You Want to Grow Your Clientele? Work on Your Retention Rate

Your Post-Sale Strategy: Gaining Leads From Your Customers