The best of our humanity is genuinely expressed through excellent customer service: sincerity, vulnerability, empathy, kindness and, fundamentally, LOVE.

However, in the business world, we often get this counterintuitive advice about how to treat customers: “The customer is always right.”

Basically, this means that your primary job is to meet the needs and desires of your customers.

This is tricky, because customers are aware of this, and some will likely take advantage of it. Through their Naij, Jumia or Uber reviews and through Linda Ikeji, Pulse, Nairaland or on social media, customers tell everyone how businesses treat them. Sometimes, it’s merely a display of power by the customer.

But what if your customer isn’t always right? Or what if simply accommodating the customer’s aggression and outrage isn’t the wisest decision for your business?

Conversely, have you ever considered what type of customer you are?

When you make requests or ask for assistance from a business, are you polite to the employees? How do you act towards fellow customers or group members?

In this OtaoseseTalks, I show you how your customer could be wrong and also what to do about it.

After watching the video, keep reading for more tips, particularly two ways to handle situations with difficult customers.

Why Your Customers Aren’t Always Right

First, let’s set the record straight: It’s unreasonable for a business to adhere to the slogan that the customer is always right.

Even though it’s a nice catch phrase that ensures you always take decisions in a way that helps the customers who use your products and services, it’s a mentality of avoiding the commitment and responsibility of objectively managing your customers effectively. When you understand that no two customers are exactly alike, you’ll begin to see the varying nature of your customers, your limited resources, the fact that you can’t treat your customers with a one-size fits all approach, and ultimately, that your customers are not always be right.

Now instead of focusing your processes exclusively on your customers’ whims and expectations, it is important that you choose a strategy and a group of customers to get you where you need to go and create products that delight those customer communities.

Customer satisfaction doesn’t mean that you spend all your resources on pleasing and keeping customers of all kinds happy all the time – if you do that, you’ll end up under-delivering to all of them (studies actually show that many fast-growing companies have more of their development capacity focused on features and products that are yet to be offered). Customer satisfaction is more effective when you follow your best customer, and by so doing, boldly follow the rewards and profitability.

According to the late world-renowned business consultant Clayton Christensen, in a world where you can reach customers quickly and easily — part of the job of a marketer was to make it clear when potential customers shouldn’t buy your product.

If you’re not carefully thinking about how you listen to your customers and what you focus your development efforts on, your customers can very easily become a business liability for you.

Since customers can lead you down a wrong path, satisfaction cannot be the only criterion by which you direct your decisions, because it is your role as a business owner or marketer to provide your business with results and your customers with meaningful value.

Rethinking Your Strategy

Want to get rid of your customers’ misplaced outrage? Then you need to let go of the notion that your business success is solely dependent on the happiness of your customer.

From my over 10 years’ experience in sales and marketing, I know that some customers actively push boundaries, intimidate, harass, demean and even hit those who are there to help (customer service reps, marketers, business owners, etc.), they make unreasonable requests that trigger employees to break rules, and alarmingly, threaten to post highly offensive customer service reviews on social media if they don’t get their way. These surprising behaviors simply reinforce what many in business, marketing and customer service have known for some time.

Some customers are actually bad for business, hence it’s no wonder that some businesses have begun to dump their worst customers, compile a list of badly behaved customers, and drift away from another popular mantra that “the more customers, the better”.

The “customer is always right” mindset puts the customer in a position of authority that seems to act as a strong platform in today’s world from which they discharge a range of dysfunctional behaviors, many of which affect the wellbeing and sanity of business owners, marketers and customer service representatives.” We’ve all being pain-in-the-ass customers at one point or another though. Especially when things don’t go the way we expect them to go. The fact is none of us is perfect.

Can you think of a time when you acted aggressively towards a business owner or customer service representative? Even though I try my best, I still lose my temper sometimes and overreact to business owners and managers regarding their products or services.

It is these moral issues that contribute to employee disengagement and lower productivity, which eventually removes any semblance of quality customer experience.

The bottom line is that the customer isn’t always right. Thinking otherwise will only lead to poor service delivery.

2 Strategic Ways to reduce the impact of aggression and outrage from Customers.

  1. Don’t become your customer’s enemy.

Keep all your interactions objective and focused on the particular issues. Don’t allow yourself to engage emotionally with a pain-in-the-ass customer. When I find myself dealing with an unreasonable or pain-in-the-ass customer, I check myself, so I don’t completely lose it. And instead, I look for the source of the issue and how I can support the customer to resolve it.

  • Call out the customers role in the issue.

Only state the specific activities that you think influenced the problem and explain why and how they can adjust. But always do this in a private setting. The point of this exercise is not to embarrass the customer. Also, tackle the problem directly with the customer.

Dealing With Pain-In-The-Ass Customers Takes Practice

Here’s an important takeaway:

Not all customers are engaged with your business. And that’s okay. But your relationship with your customers doesn’t have to be a burden.

The quality of your business is determined largely by who your customers are. I’m aware that you may have gone to a lot of trouble getting your customers. So, you sometimes look away from bad behaviour. And that’s okay.

What you need to cultivate is a mentality of abundance, and the best way to begin is to “act as if” you already have a complete lineup of quality customers. Even if you don’t have any customers yet, you need to think and act as though you do. Because every pain-in-the-ass customer you tolerate in your business is going exhaust your resources and affect your ability to attract star customers.

Let’s turn this knowledge into action, shall we?

  1. Which of your customers are you currently struggling with? Write down as many names as come to your mind.
  2. What behaviours are you currently tolerating that you can call out and address?
  3. What would it feel like to let go of your pain-in-the-ass customer? Describe the feeling – anger, happiness, gratitude, etc. – and how would you choose better customers going forward?
  4. What’s one improvement you can make to become a better customer?

It’s better to have one customer who becomes an excellent reference point than five customers you would probably hate.

I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

While this is a nice conversation to have in the scope of business and marketing, what’s even more fascinating to me is how changing our attitudes will motivate us to simply be better people.

Once again, thank you for reading, learning and expressing your insights and perspectives with all of us.

With lots of love,

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