Is the customer always right?
All successful retail giants of the early days of chain stores: Nordstrom,
Penney, Kresge, Sears, McCrory, Hudson and Ward believed the
customer is always rights. It was not until they passed the reigns of their
retail empires to others that customer service began to deteriorate.
The adage that the customer is always right is not just a truth, it is an
absolute. Why? It comes down to perception – the customer’s
But anybody working in customer service knows that a customer can be
incorrect. To give world-class customer service there needs to be an
understanding that a “right” customer is a matter of perception and not
necessarily backed by fact.
When a customer is incorrect your only choice is to accept the
customer’s reality or to try to change their reality. Accepting the
customer’s reality is easy. Unfortunately carries with it the potential of
lifelong harm in dealing with this same customer in the future or with
other customers in the same paradigm.
But changing their reality can be hazardous. Do not even attempt to
change their reality if it will take more time than it is worth as in
changing the reality could make things even worse. That effectively
change a reality and get them to understand the company’s point of view
provides the opportunity of winning their business for life.
- To go to the story about Mr. Nordstrom, click here.
- For an exercise in perception, click here for the “Frog” and/or
here for the “Lady”.
Use this ah-ha moment story for developing skills in these areas:
©2007, 2017 Max Impact, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA