How often do we business owners hear the statement “the customer is always right”? How often do we sometimes grimace at those words? After all, sometimes…well, sometimes the customer isn’t always right. What do we do then?
The answer, obviously, is not to go in the total and absolute opposite direction with the thought that “the customer is never right.” In service industries especially, customer service is essential to maintaining a business’s credibility and building customers’ trust. Even when a customer isn’t right, we business owners still must attend to that customer’s needs. We always want to do our best to meet our customers where they are and help them as much as we can.
Failing in customer service is failing in business.
And what is worse than not helping customers when they aren’t right is choosing not to help customers at all.
In a recent post, Bernadette Jiwa discusses the “necessary work” of owning a business. This type of work is more than marketing and selling. It’s more than what we do to produce our products or conduct our services. “Necessary work” is the work of helping others.
Unfortunately, many a business is so focused on “unnecessary work” to acknowledge the work that actually matters.
Think about a time you stopped at a business to ask a question about a service or product and were told that the person who knew the answer wasn’t available. Or the time you sent an email inquiry and received the standard “we will respond when we can respond” reply. Or the time you listened to tinny concerto music for ten minutes until a representative answered your call and then promptly told you that you had called the wrong department.
“Unnecessary work” is work that maintains nothing more than the status quo. It keeps a business running, but it doesn’t reach above and beyond. It doesn’t help. What, then, is the business’s purpose?
As Jiwa explains, “The reason a company exists is to help. If our systems and processes, our products and services or our work and ideas are not helping, then why are they necessary? […] We can’t thrive when we are limited to doing unnecessary work.”
Customer service, the type that actually helps, takes time, patience, and dedication. Like any form of caring, it means sacrificing something of yourself for another person. But treating customers with kindness and the attention they’re due is rewarding, both for us and for them. The customer may or may not always be right, but they are why we’re here at all.