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When the Customer Is Not King

The concept which has been assiduously followed by businesses is now turning upon them and is forcing a rethink. Often, the customer is “not king” when a business fails to live up to its part of a buyer-seller relationship. Under such conditions, a customer suffers for no fault of his. But this article focuses on how times have changed since the phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909.

Customer service personnel often have to leave their self respect at the doorstep of the stores they work in. Putting up with know-it-all, impatient, and sometimes irate customers is part and parcel of a customer service executive’s work. What’s worse, very often the bad customers are also not generating any profits for your business. The only value they provide is nuisance value; a nuisance to your business that is. Businesses are now beginning to feel that an increase in customer happiness does not necessarily have to translate into an increase in business. In fact, too many customers getting on the employees’ nerves can seriously affect employee performance and consequently your business. You should know that customers are not equal. Some are a profitable proposition, some will stagnate, and some are a downright loss for your business.

Abrasive customers, particularly those who have got away with their antics, often get better treatment than customers who are willing to put up with some valid discomfort. They set a bad example and cause resentment amongst employees. In fact, companies are now discovering that putting their employees first often results in an upping of the customer service standards.

A common argument against standing up to a customer who is wrong is that it costs more to find a new customer. What we miss here that it costs even more to recruit and train an employee who’s had enough. Financials apart, self-respect and dignity are also things that mould your businesses’ image.

Companies are sometimes forced to sever ties with certain customers; usually this is the last resort for a business that can no longer sustain unprofitable customers. However; companies are better served if they can lay certain ground rules for customers to follow. This will help prevent misunderstandings and acrimony at a later stage. Select your customers carefully so that you do not have to fire them later on and earn their ill-will. Let your customer have honest information on your business practices to eliminate any doubts. Set limits beyond which your employees should be allowed to stand up firmly, if need be, when in the right.  Empathize with the customer and do not forget the importance of customer relationship because that is what will help you sell and build your brand.