Who’s in Charge? The Customer or You


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I see it all too often but today the confrontation was epic!

Let me set the stage in my best boxing ring announcer voice….

“In the red corner, a loud, brash, entitled customer  and  in the blue corner a poorly selected and ill-trained staff…..”

Cesar Ritz, the founder of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, is credited with saying “the customer is always right.”  I am fond of saying that “Cesar was wrong but the customer is always… the customer.”  What I witnessed today, at a store I will chose not to name, was the worst of both customer and business behavior.

I am convinced that some people should not be in the service industry.  Not everyone has the emotional intelligence to “hear past” the words being stated by an irate customer and listen for what will be needed to de-escalate and hopefully resolve a conflict.  Even individuals who have this talent must be trained and supported to grow in conflict mitigation skills.  Today, however, the company’s representative took the customer’s words personally and responded in kind.

Had I been interested in watching a yelling match, I would not be complaining to you about the “free” show I was so generously provided.  Unfortunately, no one in management interceded to take the customer into a private and calming environment – so the checkout lines became front row seats.

Thanks for listening!

Now questions for you…

How well are you selecting for the emotional intelligence of your customer-facing employees?

Does your training provide opportunities to develop conflict management skills? and

As a leader, where would you have been today?  Standing by or modeling the behavior you expect to see?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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