The customer is always right. It's a lovely thought… if you're a customer. Of course, no one is actually, truly, always right. Customers - along with some politicians, children, and Tony Abbot - may think they're always right, but life is just not that simple. There are times when even the best customer will be wrong.
In many cases, the best approach will be to treat the customer as if they were indeed right. Offering a discount when a customer doesn't technically qualify can be a lot less expensive than losing a long-time customer for good.
In other cases though the mistake or misinformation may be so significant that there is just no way you can let it go uncorrected:
“I’m truly sorry, but no, the Buy One Get One Free special that we had last year is no longer being offered, and unfortunately it never applied to every single item in the store.”
“Sorry, but I'm afraid the Kids Eat Free special only applies when someone else buys a meal.”
Whether right or, well, wrong, though, every customer deserves the same respect and dignity they would get if they were indeed right. And if you do need to tell a customer that this time he or she is not right, stop first to ask yourself a few questions:
- Are you absolutely sure the customer is not right? Is it possible that maybe you or someone else in the company is at fault or that a new policy or sale is in place that you just have not heard of yet?
- Are there any special circumstances that should be considered? Yes, the sale price may no longer be in effect, but did the ad not run until after the deadline? Was the offer misleading? Is your product actually indeed a really bad product, and therefore you should offer an extra level of service?
- Does the customer deserve special attention? Has she been loyal to you since the day you opened, and raved so much that she has brought in more customers for you than most of your sales team has?
Taking the time to know the situation and customer can save you a lot of embarrassment and even some lost customers. Because the only thing worse than telling a customer he or she is wrong, is telling them they’re wrong when they’re actually right!