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Customers Are Not Always Right - Business - Nairaland

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is The Customer Always Right? / Are Customers Always Right? / Why I Think The Customers Are Not Always Right By Intel Parrot - April 25, 20200 (2) (3) (4)

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Customers Are Not Always Right by MakeItBiz: 10:50am On Jun 27, 2019
Nnamdi Anene, a Customer service strategist, banker and corporate trainer shares his knowledge with makeitglobal.biz on customer service in Nigeria and how to handle troublesome customers.

Do you agree with the saying “customers are always right?”

[b]I’m pretty sure you would want to expect to hear a yes from me, on this. But I will shock you. No. customers are not always right. But they should be treated right.

Let me give a little background perspective to that cliché that has gone rounds for ages.

That statement was actually a slogan or motto credited to three men, Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker and Marshall Field. Prior to that time, customers were not given much attention as per excellent customer service, until these men showed up on the scene and enforced that mentality among their staff. It went a long way to change the dynamics of serving customers as members of staff of these stores were trained to see their customers as being right regardless of what they did.

The result? Customers literally flowed in their direction and these brands became super successful and credited their successes to this mindset of customer service.

On the flipside, however, let me also add. Some brands have literally stretched this cliché to extremes, unfortunately, to the hurt of their own staff. And some customers, understanding that these firms uphold this mindset by the book, make extreme demands, cheat staff and seek to get away with it. It is really surprising that some companies today will rather side the customers against their own staff even in clear cases of wrongs done against the staff by these customers. These things exist, sadly.

There has to be a balance. And every company should have a clear policy where their staff should be protected from abusive customers.

So, to put things in perspective, customers are not always right, but they must be treated right, regardless.
What are your tips for handling nagging customers?

Every customer-facing professional has to be armed and trained with the needed skills to face their customers.

First things first, the customer-facing professional should have some working knowledge of customer intelligence. This should enable you to profile the customers aright when they approach your desk or office. There are different types of customers out there, and your clear understanding of the personality of the person standing before you would help you serve them appropriately.

For instance, we have the irate customer. This is the guy who is literally angry with everything you do for him. How do you serve such a person in the midst of tension and noise he raises in the business premises?

We also have a friendly customer, who is all happy and jovial. We have the elitist customer. These are your High Networth Individuals (HNIs). You do not serve these customers just anyhow, etc.

A customer facing professional should have what we call ‘de-escalation skills’. These are skills and strategies to effectively deflect tensions. I’d share only a few for want of space and time.

The first thing to use here is the isolation principle. Here, you should smartly isolate that customer into say, an office or a sideways and calmly address the situation. This is used to skillfully starve the customer of the attention they seek from the public. If you don’t do this immediately, you would have a ripple effect on others.

You don’t handle a shouting customer in the midst of everyone else. This works every time. And you would be surprised that the very same person who was boiling awhile ago suddenly becomes all cool.

Another tip to use is to ask smart questions. By asking questions, you give the customer an opportunity to vent. This in itself sends a message to the customer that you are ready to listen to him or her. Truth be told, what most irate customers need is just that…attention. And by asking them to share what exactly made them angry, you’re clearly on their side.

Also, acknowledge the issue. Don’t be evasive about it. Don’t wave it off as though it doesn’t matter. It’s already an issue. So, acknowledge the customer’s complaint. By doing so, you validate the customer’s feelings and that’s very important.

Next off, you apologize. As the receptionist or customer-facing staff of your company, you serve as the shock absorber of your company. When you apologize for the bad experience the customer has just received, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are the reason for the issue. And the customer clearly knows this. It just means you are willing to step in and resolve the issue.

It must be clearly mentioned that in handling a customer who is dissatisfied, communication is key. What you say is as important as how you say it.

In a lesson I handled somewhere, one of the participants shared a terrible experience she had with the staff of a company. The staff obviously in a bid to handle her complaint waved it off as being not too important because of her financial standing with the company. That was a very wrong thing to say. There are words you must never use in resolving complaints with a customer.

Know when to add humour to the equation. A good joke well introduced, helps to calm the already frayed nerves and will help to lighten up the customer who is having a bad day. Don’t work all bottled up. Allow the air to be relaxed so as to resolve the issue expertly.

When you have tried your best to manage the situation and it looks still bleak, expertly bring in a third party. This could be a colleague or better, your supervisor or boss. This third party comes in as a peacemaker who wants to broker peace.

The key thing here is to take action. Be seen doing something. Don’t just acknowledge and do nothing. Nothing appeases a customer as seeing you take action on his or her complaint.

These are only a few of the many other strategies available.

The goal in all of these is that the same customer becomes not only your customer for life but your advert billboard in the market.

How would you rate customer service in Nigeria?

Well, it’s a progressive slope. Things are beginning to pick up gradually, especially with customers’ awareness of their rights

In the past, many customers would readily accept just about anything thrown at them, and even consider a service they paid for a favour done to them, but today, they now demand more from companies.

Also, the advent of social media has turned the table in customer service.

Time was when a complaint by a customer could be ignored by a company, but today, it’s a different ballgame.

Every minute, there are social media call outs of brands that treat customers shabbily. And you know, you cannot ignore these trends. And the reason is obvious. For instance, there are about 3.2 billion social media users worldwide, according to a 2019 report by Emarsys. One wrong mention online can wreck a brand’s image and reputation in the market.

So forward-looking brands are adopting what is known as ‘social listening’ as an effective way of keeping track of all keywords, mentions, and hashtags in the cyberspace.

Are there enough professionals in this line of work?

There are enough personnel in customer service here in Nigeria. By its definition, every person in a company which interfaces with the market is a customer service professional. From the CEO of the company down to the receptionist, even the sales staff. Everyone who meets with a customer out there is technically in customer service.

What we lack, however, are ‘trained’ professionals on the field.

Are there professional courses you can recommend?

Yes, there are lots of courses available both offline and online.

There is a chartered diploma course by the Chartered Institute of Customer Relationship Management (CICRM).

You also have the Customer service training by 1st Degree Consulting, headed by Adegoke Omotola.

There is also the Customer Service Relationship/Customer Service training by ANDAVOY Limited.

You also have the CCXP certification which is an international certification for customer experience professionals.


cc dominique FOD, Puskin, naijacutee

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Re: Customers Are Not Always Right by czarina(f): 12:41pm On Jun 27, 2019
Nice one. Some customers are from hell. The deepest part of it.
Re: Customers Are Not Always Right by Xenisha: 8:37pm On Dec 28, 2021
One of the important parts in working with people is customer communication. To give the right answer and help your client, you need not only to know the problem, but also to be able to explain its solution to the client himself. If you want to learn this - I advise you to read this article.

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