By Bill Roberts
Give Great Service to Great Customers.
I have had the fortune to be in customer service intensive businesses my whole life. It is the most rewarding experience when you create a trusted customer who extols the excellence of your business or service. As fulfilling as a satisfied customer is, the reality is that more often your talent is tested to your limits with horrible customers who have difficult problems to solve. Sometimes difficult customers are good communicators, but usually they are rude, angry, and unreasonable; they are “warts.” These “warts” cannot be satisfied or appeased. They enjoy being caustic while making their personal attacks toward the customer service personnel.
Most people appreciate good customer service; in fact, we mostly expect it. When some people don’t get good service, they sometimes get irritable or aggressive. This can begin a disastrous experience for both parties, and it could end a relationship with a customer.
Managers have the difficult job of protecting their employees against the “warts” while making a customer feel vindicated when something turns out less than expected. The reality is that you cannot please everyone, all the time. In fact, there are some people who your business would be better off not doing business with. Here’s why:
Some people create a scene in order to get what they want, even though they do not deserve it. I have had frenzied customers who lie about a transaction that never took place; then they want their refund even though they didn’t purchase the product from my store. They make threats and stir up drama. The natural response is to appease them and quiet them down; not me! I explain that I will not be able to help them until they can control their emotions. I also explain that this is a matter of facts, and there is no room for emotional outbursts. It works, and others witnessing this see how it works. It sets the bar for mutual respect. Rowdy customers either settle down or must leave – nothing else.
What I have learned from 30 years of customer service is that there are customers I do not want; let someone else lose money by serving them. I chose to spend my time on building lasting, lucrative customers. My competition can have the “warts.” In fact, when I have a hopeless customer, I make sure to recommend my strongest competitor. It has never come back to haunt me, so I do it gladly.
The customer is never right; that is why they do business with me. I solve their problem(s) by knowing what I do while taking that burden from them. I desire qualified customers who understand that I deserve respect, and I will return that respect gladly (and sincerely) every time. My value proposition is simple: I deliver the level of respect that I am given, and that translates into great customer service when it is deserved.