If you follow my work, you know that I believe that customers should be treated with dignity and respect, even when they’re wrong (and yes, they can be wrong). But what about when the customer is right and you are wrong? Or when they have a simple request? When it comes to giving in to a customer, make sure you do it in a graceful manner.
My assistant shared a story with me recently in which her friend received an invoice via email and noticed it had the wrong physical address. So, he contacted the company to inform them of the correct address. The response from the customer service rep was surprising. Less than friendly, the rep was short and made the customer feel as if she was doing him a huge favor. Apparently he could have gone on the company’s website and changed it himself. In a cynical tone, she informed him that as a courtesy to him, she will update his account, but next time use the website. Basically she was saying, next time don’t bother her.
Doesn’t this rep realize that she is dealing with a customer – someone who not only helps keep the company profitable, but ultimately is paying her salary? Apparently not! She made him feel as if she “gave in” to his very reasonable request. It wasn’t like he was asking for much, if anything at all. He thought he was doing the company a favor by letting them know what the correct address was.
Another example that may make more sense happened one day when I tried to park my car in a public parking lot. As I attempted to pull into the lot, the attendant informed me that it was full. I had seen several open spaces as I was passing by the lot and shared that information with the attendant. Apparently, the attendant didn’t believe me, so I actually stepped out of the car and walked him over to the empty spaces. At that point, a customer-focused employee might have said something like, “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize there was an open spot. Thanks for letting me know,” Instead, with an exasperated attitude, he let me in. He made me feel that he had done me a huge favor. And, all I wanted to do was pay him and his company for the apparent privilege of parking my car in an empty space on his lot.
If you are going to do a favor for a customer or give in to a reasonable – or even special – request, do so graciously. Don’t make the customer feel as if you are doing him or her a huge favor. The reality is that you aren’t doing the customer a courtesy. No, the customer is doing you a favor by spending his or her hard earned money with you instead of your competition.
In just about every situation, whether the customer is asking for something special or just doing business with you as usual, serve with grace and appreciation.