Customers Are NOT Always Right

I managed a group of tourist attractions and we strived for excellent customer service. So I told my employees that “the customer is always right.” Sounded like good management at the time, but I was young.

To boost our admission income, I initiated a 100% money-back guarantee if the customer was unhappy with the experience. All the customer had to do was return to the entrance, complain to the cashier, and get repaid. The money-back policy worked – sales went up.

But my employees had a problem with it because many times they saw these same customers inside the attractions and seemingly having a blast. Then they would come back and say they didn’t like/enjoy the experience. My employees knew they were lying, and felt like I put the customer over them in some way. My poor, loyal-to-the-company employees felt that their opinions didn’t matter.

My loyal-to-the company employees felt their opinions didn’t matter.

So I had to rephrase that old saying. I changed it to “The customer is NOT always right, but they are always the customer.” Here are a few lessons I learned:

  • There are wrong customers. Sometimes they lie, sometimes they try to cheat.
  • It’s important that your loyal employees feel that their opinions matter.
  • Valuing a lying customer over the employees could make them feel undervalued.
  • Review and discuss your customer service policy with your people.
  • I shared the miniscule percentage of times we actually refunded admission prices.

At staff meetings, we started sharing the insane ways nameless customers would try to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes. Although the staff would cheerfully refund their admissions, we all knew that the customer is NOT always right!

Get more performance out of your most valuable and expensive business assets – your people. Contact me to find out how.

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