Posted by: Andy Porter | January 28, 2011

The Customer is EVERYTHING!

If you take time to read customer service manuals, books or articles or if you go to seminars or workshops then you know that they all talk about the same basic stuff:

  • How to please the customer.
  • How to wow the customer.
  • How to make your customers loyal
  • How to knock your customer’s socks off
  • How to create a memorable experience for your customers.
  • How to anticipate each and every small need of the customer.

You’ve heard it all before. The customer is your boss. The customer signs your paycheck. The customer’s needs and desires are paramount.

The customer is God.

We shall all bow before the holy customer and do everything to service thee.

It gets a little crazy, doesn’t it?

Can we be honest for a minute?

First of all let’s face it, you can’t please everyone. There are certain customers that just cannot be pleased. You know it and I know it, but it’s never written about in the customer service books or manuals. The basic idea is that you MUST please EVERYONE! And if you can’t or don’t, then boy are you just plain lousy at customer service!

There are customers who would complain if you gave them a bag of gold. (“It will hurt my back if I have to carry this out to the car!)

While were being honest, lets really dig deep, shall we?

It’s actually OKAY if you don’t please everyone.

I know that sounds sacrilegious. This is something that should never be said out loud. We’ve all known an employee who would immediately grab a hold of this idea and use it to write off any and all complaints. That’s why no one ever talks about it.

There are many reasons why you will never be able to please everyone.

First, not everyone likes or dislikes the same things. You may have one customer complain about your receptionist and 100 other customers say that she or he is the best they’ve ever seen. In a restaurant your most loved dish (Chicken Cordon Bleu with Béarnaise Sauce) won’t be loved by everyone. You can count on the fact that someone won’t like it at all!

Then there is the type of customers you hope to attract. Is your service or product a run of the mill sort, or is it for high-end customers?  If you run a 4 star hotel some guests will complain about the price. No matter what your prices are. If you run a Motel 6 some will complain that there is no wireless Internet or valet service. So we have the fact that as soon as you try to focus on a specific type of customers you tend to make the others unhappy.

In some cases the customer just wants a fight. I have known customers who ALWAYS return their food and complain in the restaurants they visit. They feel it’s their duty. Some love the drama. Some love the new and exciting stories they can tell their friends about how they got such HORRIBLE service at such and such a place.

Some of the customers that I have bent over backwards to treat the best were the ones who complained the most.

I know customers who feel slighted if they are not really wowed and impressed. I recently read a book where the author was irate because the hotel clerk did not drive down to Wal-Mart to buy him a full sized ironing board. He was NOT happy with the small ones the hotel had, and wanted a regular sized ironing board. The idea was what louts they were for not going to buy one for him.

So where does this leave us?

When there are complaints do the usual. Go and look to see what happened and if there is something to fix, fix it.

But maybe you have been over and over everything and you just can’t see what you did wrong or what you could have done better. Then what?

My advice is simple: Don’t sweat it. Don’t get upset or feel bad. Don’t yell at your co-workers or get angry at the employees. Just smile, laugh and be happy! Recognize that you do a heck of a good job at customer service and go have fun servicing the next customer!

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