The customer is always right. This has become a very divisive statement amongst business owners and staff, particularly in Zimbabwe. I will not be drawn into a debate on the matter but if you must know I believe the customer is always right. However right isn’t always right. That is to say, customers do get it wrong sometimes. A lot of the time. So what do you do when your customer isn’t right?

Seek first to understand, then be understood

I have witnessed first-hand many alterations with customers that didn’t need to go that far. Even though the customer is not right being dismissive or combative will not help the situation. Instead, allow the customer to explain their perspective so you can see any incorrect assumptions or misconceptions about the problem and then fix these rather than trying to fix the customer. If handled well the customer should now understand where things went wrong.

Weigh the cost

I didn’t want to debate on this but here is the thing, it’s usually about the cost. That is we cannot afford to make the customer feel like they are wrong and so treat the customer as if they are always right. In many cases, a happy customer is a returning customer and so it makes sense to please them. Weigh the cost of what you are doing and how you treat customer complaints overall. One bad review is nothing to worry about. 9 or 10 on a platform like Twitter and you may trend for all the wrong reasons.

Ask what remedy they desire

This is one that can save you a lot of time and trouble. Simply asking a customer what remedy they desire can make a bad situation a very good experience. I on occasion have had to complain about the products I have bought and am always impressed when the process is simple. Even better when I am immediately asked what remedy I desire. I have seen staff and employees argue and eventually settle on a remedy that was always available.

Educate the customer

In many spaces what tends to happen is there is a knowledge gap. To expect customers to know the inner workings of something complex like a computer is expecting a lot. This doesn’t mean they cannot understand the issue if it is explained to them to educate them.  Done right this can be a positive experience for the customer.

Smile, you’re on camera

Listen you’re probably not on camera but you may as well be. Now if being considered a combative grouch is your thing then you really won’t care but handle every customer complaint, especially ones where the customer isn’t right, as though you were being watched. Chances are you’re not being directly watched but with social media and the power it has given people to document things you are as good as on camera. So handle with caution and put your best foot forward.

What we need to remember, especially with after-sales customer complaints is that they are still considered part of the sale process. And rightly so. The customer’s happiness is our goal and responsibility long after the money has exchanged hands.