Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is the Customer Always King?

Good question and one that online businesses, such as ourself, address on a daily basis. I sometimes agonize when a customer decides to create their own set of rules on how an order should be handled and then DEMANDS that we make it happen. Should I give in to their demands knowing that other customers have not been granted the same exceptions, or do I hold my ground on our posted company polices?

I don't care how customer focused a company claims to be, there are certains 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 our company truly tries 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? I find these types of threats totally unacceptable and liken this type of behavior to that of a two-year old throwing a tantrum because they can't have their way. 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 preseving 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. GoPlanet's customer service philopsphy is not just selling soap making product, but we also strive to make it a value-added experience. As with all companies, there are occasions when a customer believes we've not met their expectations. When such occasions arise, we look at each of those cases individually and do our best to offer an equitable resolution.

  • Is the customer's expectations realistic when dissatisfied with service?

  • Is the customer pointing blame on our 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. 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 our company and want the world and demand that we give it to them.

So... is the Customer Always King? From my standpoint, in most cases a big fat, YES! But if you're trying to bend (our) company policies because you didn't take time to read the small print... well, sorry! It's not fair to those customers who DID take the time to review the return, order, and shipping policies.

A big thanks to our many, many loyal customers who have become friend to us through the years. To our new customers, WELCOME. We will do our very best to service your account promptly, courteously and with accuracy. Should you encounter a question or have a concern, please contact me directly and I will work toward a fair resolution.

As Featured On EzineArticles


Anonymous said...

Great post!
Policies are in place for a reason. Stick to them.
Afterall, they got you this far! :)
It still blows my mind though that many people will enter their credit card info. on a site but yet fail to read about policies/shipping/order info. BEFORE they enter their payment info! I just don't get it.

Sindy said...

You guys are the Bomb~! Great CS, Great tutorials and LOADS of fun~! Keep up the great work~!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you hit the nail on the head. You are completely correct on your post. More than likely they on going to by that one-time fly by customer. We as business owners need to stick by our policies. Policies are implemented to protect us and the customer. We keep running into this situation more frequently these days. You just keep sticking the two feet on the ground FIRMLY!!

Denise said...

Thanks for the confirmation. There is a delicate balance between assisting a customer and being manipulated by a customer. As you state, sometimes you DO have to dig your feet into the ground to disallow customer coercion. Sad, but true!