IS THE customer always right, even when they're wrong? You betchya.
Our job is to make them feel they are right, regardless, and work on the solution rather than the issue.
When I was first starting out in retail, my manager taught me to look for those coming in with returns or who looked unhappy.
Maybe being the junior, that was my job.
Lucky for me, this wasn't the case - he was teaching me a valuable lesson about helping people solve their problems, so the next time they wanted to buy something it was me they came to.
Whenever I saw someone coming in with a faulty toaster I'd hightail it over to them, listen courteously, copped any abuse (I knew it wasn't directed at me personally) then simply, with sincerity, say these five words: "What would make you happy?"
They had nowhere to go but tell me exactly what would make them happy and, you guessed it, I just did as they asked. Simple stuff. These five words and your actions after determine if you have a customer for life.
Of course, as a manager or owner, you need to train your staff on your policies and procedures (assuming they are centered on the customer factor) so they know what they can and can't do without authority.
You'll also need to show them the lifetime value of the customer and what it means for them.
I would never allow a customer who demanded to see the manager get past me, unless they were all happy.
In my first year of selling toasters, washers, irons and fridges I was in the Elite Million Dollar club with Errol Stewarts, all because I was the first one to turn a customer's frustrating problem into a solution.
In the years after in my businesses, I would train my teams the same. Of course, I was always happy to chat to the customer, but their issue should have been resolved with no need for my intervention. Empowering your staff to make these decisions is the key.
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