Good question and one that online businesses address on a daily basis.
I don’t care how customer focused a company claims to be, there are certain customer emails that give pause to this whole “Customer is King” marketing concept and makes you reassess this mantra. The idea that the customer should be the core of all decision making sounds great on paper, and is a concept that many companies try to practice, but in reality the customer is not “King” 100% of the time. There will always be that small percentage of customers who will never be happy even if you bowed down and kissed their big fat toe. So how does a business handle these “problematic, demanding, never to be happy” customer types?
As for me, I take a look at the big picture. These are some of the questions I ask myself when working toward a customer resolution.
- Do I want repeat business from this problem customer?
- Is the customer threatening to bad-mouth my company on every message board and forum to which they belong? The chances of me going the extra mile is unlikely. If the customer elects to bad mouth the company, so be it. I have to allow the customer service experience of our many other customers to speak for itself. Part of preserving our company reputation is holding to the policies we have implemented that ensure equal customer service.
- Is the customer demanding that we change posted company/business policy to fit their situation? There are times you may need to bend the rules, but if you’re bending the rules just because a customer is kicking and screaming the loudest, then you’re not presenting a single face to all of your customers. For me, our customer service philosophy is not just about selling product, but also striving to make it a value-added experience. As with all companies, there are occasions when a customer believes you’ve not met their expectations. When such occasions arise, take a look at each of those cases individually and do your best to offer an equitable resolution.
- Is the customer’s expectations realistic when dissatisfied with service?
- Is the customer pointing blame on the company for an error they made and failing to accept accountability?
- What is the attitude of the customer when requesting help with an order issue?
It’s a tough market on the Internet. There are millions of companies competing to get that sale. However, I still believe that a company should maintain its integrity when dealing with customer service issues. I am convinced it’s bad for business when you give in to the demands of dissatisfied customers at the expense of your good, loyal, repeat customers. Through the years, I have found that the most problematic customers are those who are one-time buyers, looking for deep discounts on a $10 order, and have no intention of developing a business relationship with the company and want the world and demand that you give it to them.
So… is the Customer Always King? From my standpoint as a longtime business owner, in most cases, a big fat YES! It’s not fair to those customers who DID take the time to review the return, order, and shipping policies.
To new customers, always give a WELCOME shout-out. Let customers know you will do your very best to service their account promptly, courteously and with accuracy. In the end, it could make your business the “King”.