Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Customer is Always Right -

My father taught me, and reinforced over and over again, that the customer is always right. So when a customer complained about a wrongly cooked steak, too cold of potatoes, a piece of pie that wasn't big enough, his employees should smile, ask how the customer would like their complaint to be taken care of, and then do it. He gained customers over the years, rather than losing them, because of the ability to make the customer feel valued.

I wonder if this is still the case in businesses, or if now days, those in retail and service, particularly, think, "Screw you, I don't need your business." And - when a customer does make a complaint, regardless of the size, is it with apology, "I'm sorry, but I ordered this salad without cheese," or with entitlement, "Hey you sob, I ordered this without cheese, and I didn't discover this until I had eaten half the salad." And is it the tone of voice, the seeming apology, the "hey you," that determines the way the business person reacts, or is it the "Customer is always right" policy of the place of business?

And, along with this, does social media make it possible to complain, again and again, about the inadequacies of a business, big or small, without the need to confront the sales person or business owner?

As I travel, I rely on Travelocity, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, for references for lodging, dining, business. I look at their ratings, and I typically read a few of the reviews, if there's time. But what I'm finding is that often the quality of a business is directly tied to how entitled the reviewer feels, or how soon after their experience they wrote their review. So far, they've been pretty accurate, but they can be petty. Often there are complaints that are more related to the customer, not the business - as in, "The food delivered to my table was not what I thought I ordered." Well - what were you thinking? Or, "We arrived late in the evening, later than we had confirmed. The lady at the front desk was grumpy, like she had just woken up." And I get that. But tolerance, folks, tolerance, and the need to not always be correct or right or in charge, seems to take the edge out of being snarky.

And yet - there are some places, there are some people, who do not believe the customer keeps their business running. While I'm not the perfect guest or customer, I'm not a whiner or complainer; I am a "thank you for your help," take the bedding off the bed, don't clean my shoes with the bathroom towels, fold my napkin and put it on my plate, along with silverware, type of customer. And when I'm treated like crap or disrespectful, I am not inclined to return again, regardless of how awesome the food or product was. But I'm also not inclined to whine on social media - although perhaps I should?

So - who is correct? The business, the customer, or the employee who has just had a tough day? And can vulnerability - "What can I do for you?" go both ways in improving client/business satisfaction, hence ratings?

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