For people who are or have been in the service line, there is no saying in existence in the history of mankind that can ever be more wrong than this one: “The customer is always right.”
Nope. Nah-uh. Disagreed. They are most definitely not “always right”. Customers are, afterall, people, and people can be wrong sometimes. But whoever it was that coined the phrase probably did not mean for it to be taken literally. It was perhaps supposed to express an emphasis on treating customers with great importance, and make them feel special, much like one would a king. “Customer is king”, goes another saying.
Towards all customers, no matter how ridiculous and unreasonable their requests can be, or how rude and condescending their words may sound, do not give in to the temptation of saying something to them that you will regret later. Instead, make them feel special and give them reasons to return.
Be Their Friend
It is always good for you to form some sort of bond with the customer. Talk about the game last night if they’re wearing a sports team’s jersey, compliment their taste in music if they are browsing through the Rolling Stones albums in your CD store (do CD stores still exist, by the way?), draw a smiley face beside their name on the cup of latté. It doesn’t have to be related to business, but if it is, even better. When you manage to establish a connection with the customer, they will not only feel like they are getting their needs met, they will also feel like they have met a new friend. When they return to your store – and they probably will – the customer will remember you and the nice feeling they had from their last visit.
Go The Extra Mile
Sometimes a customer may be shy or naturally reserved, and that stops them from asking for assistance. Be observant and assist them with whatever they seem to need, without being asked to. Help phone them a taxi when they seem to have trouble getting one outside the backpacker’s hostel you run. Offer them a free cup of hot chocolate when their child accidentally knocks their’s over at the café where you work. These little acts matter a whole lot, and even the coldest of people would know to appreciate them.
Smile, With Your Heart
No great service is ever complete without a sincere smile. Sure, it can be tiring to smile all day. But if you serve with warmth and sincerity, a smile will come naturally. Just remember that nobody likes being greeted by an unfriendly face.
And of course, who doesn’t love getting free stuff? Add on a packet of chips to go along with the 5 six-pack beers they purchased. Send a complimentary airline merchandise for a passenger’s birthday. All this, of course, after consulting your respective supervisors – unless you think it’s worth having it taken out of your paycheck. Customers will always remember these little gestures fondly.
Just put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What would you need, how would you feel in their situation? Customers may not always be right. But it is far more important that you provide them with the right quality of service.