The customer is NOT always right: How to address right and wrong customersby
What defines a 'right' customer vs a wrong customer? And knowing that the customer is not always right, what do you do? Lior Arussy explains.
- Case 1 - During a recent analysis done by us at a global hospitality provider, our consultant overheard a group of 17 happy diners say to one another at the end of the meal: “Let’s go to guest services and complain. They will waive the dinner fee for us.” There was absolutely no basis for the complaint other than taking advantage of the generosity of the hospitality vendor and the diners’ keen knowledge that the vendor is sensitive to customer satisfaction surveys and results and would do anything to avoid negative feedback and comments.
- Case 2 - A recent recruiting experience taught me a personal lesson. Being concerned with finding the right person who would fit Stativity’s culture, I asked the recruiter for a temp–to–hire arrangement. He was completely willing to comply with my request. The candidate provided was not a good fit and we had to let him go. During a discussion with another recruiter, I was told that the temp–to–hire arrangement does not appeal to top candidates and I might want to reconsider my request. Instead of telling me what I wanted to hear, the second recruiter taught me something new and expanded my knowledge. He stood to lose my attention and business by refuting my request, but preferred to tell me with is right – rather than treat me like I was always right.
- Case 3 - Several years ago I was working with a client who continued to supply its wares to customers who did not pay their bills for over 365 days. When questioned why they do this, I was told that they must be customer centric and not argue with customers. I am sorry, but non-paying customers are not customers. They are merely vultures living on the profit margins provided by the good paying customers. Such vultures belong anywhere else but on your customer list. (May I suggest your competitors?)
- Fair – Premium Price – Did the customer pay a fair price and potentially a premium price or was he focused on obtaining the deepest discount possible? Did he ignoring your quality and treat your product / service as commodity?
- Knowledgeable – Customers who are knowledgeable are more likely to appreciate your value and what it takes to create it. In addition, they may require less education and therefore you require fewer resources to service them.
- Collaborative – Customers who are willing to do their share, such as use self-service, are in the “right customer” category. Such customers understand that it takes two to succeed and are willing to do their share. As a result, they allow you to make a fair profit.
- Win-win attitude – You can see it in their approach. The 'right customer' respects your brand and value. The wrong customer assumes it is a win-lose situation and they drive the hardest bargain possible with the assumption that any profit you make is a loss for them. They fail to see the value you provide in return.
Customer relationship reset
Set clear expectations
Ask 'why?' five times
Don’t argue with the customer, charge for it
Identify the abusers
Focus resources on the profitable customers
Include measurements of customer collaboration into profitability
Delight the right customers
Lior Arussy is the president of Strativity Group a global customer experience research and consulting firm. Arussy is the author of five books including Customer Experience Strategy – The Complete Guide From Innovation To Execution (4i, 2010). Follow Lior on Twitter @LiorStrativity
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 20 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined MyCustomer in 2007.