This question has become so cliché in the business world, and has also become the most hated cliché for employees. As someone who has been on both ends of the spectrum, the answer to this question is not necessarily simple to answer.
As a business owner (or manager), your primary goal is to make money. That’s not being selfish or callous, it’s just the facts. No one goes into business just for kicks – there is a living to be made in this thing. And as a business owner, it is imperative to get the job done, and please the ones who bring in the money – the customer… Or is it?
Customers are what I call “third base” pieces to this puzzle called financial success, which implies that there is a second base that has to be passed by in order to get to third. Second base participants are your employees. They are the ones who run the ship. They know the ins and outs of how the business operates, they push and promote the business’ products or services, and they are the contact to the customer. Employees have the hardest job in this “game” of customer service, because they are the ones on the front lines with the customer.
It is imperative to make sure that rules and regulations are in place. They should be in place to protect the business (profit and loss), as well as the well-being of the consumer, but also the employee. Employees should have their rights protected in sticky situations where customers — heaven forbid — try to manipulate the business practices for their own selfish gain. Employees aren’t always right either, but it is in the best interest of the business owner to make sure the foundation is solid. Building a connection and security with employees is the best success tactic a business owner or manager can use.
To safeguard bumps in the road when it comes to customer complaints, make sure that your employees are 110% versed and knowledgeable on business procedures, purchase regulations and rules, and customer retention methods (I will do a post later on these three safeguards). Employees need to be reassured that you as their employer has their support in making decisions that will be best for the business. Customers are finicky and they come and go, and yes, you want to have good word-of-mouth marketing, but you also want to reduce high turnover rates and training costs because you lose good employees consistently due to in-house issues. Good customers who feel that you appreciate them enough to do what’s best in how they use your products or services will always return and bring someone along with them. And guess what, so will employees when you do the same thing for them. Employees want to know that they are right in upholding the policy and procedures, and valued for doing what’s best for the business. Remember, employees are at the top of the greatest investments for a business. Employees’ morale declines when they feel they have to endure abuse from customers, just because they’re customers. And if employees’ morale declines, the representation of the business declines.
So, are the customers always right? Not exactly. They may have a right to be angry or unsatisfied, and a business owner should never negate or downplay the feelings a customer has about a product or service. But with the right safeguards in place and a solid trust relationship with the employees, a business owner is more likely to salvage business by acknowledging the complaints, yet re-emphasizing the standards of the company with an employee that understands that they’re rights are valued and supported.
About the Article Author: Tonya Franklin is the Chief Administrative Officer of UpWrite Solutions, LLC and is the author of the book, “Good Customer Service Tips for Entrepreneurs: Please and Thank You with a Smile.”