One of my friends during my youth had a bakery. It was definitely the best bakery in town – and then when they moved, t was the best bakery in that town too. His parents were German and they knew how to make some awesome donuts and cakes. They knew how to make everything. My friend had an uncanny sense for business and I got to see him sell in the bakery more than once. Here’s what I noticed.
The customer was never wrong.
Surprised? No, of course you aren’t – I know you’ve heard it before. It’s an important concept – but, how many of us really understand it? How many of us practice it? It’s almost impossible in some situations, isn’t it?
Not for my friend. I saw him give free donuts to kids. I saw him give a whole box of donuts to a customer that dropped hers. I saw him argue with a customer gently for 10 minutes trying to get him to understand why something was the way it was… and then he said, “OK, for you.”
I saw him say “OK” when things weren’t OK. My friend, as a teenager, already had the unbelievable, and rarely practiced mantra that the customer is always right ingrained in his head. I guess his parents were that way – but, I didn’t see them or remember them interact with customers much. I do remember my friend’s business attitude because it went contrary to the way his personality was as a crazy teen hanging around with me!
In nearly every misunderstanding, disagreement, or confrontation that happens in your business you have the ability to say, “OK”. In a heated disagreement – which should never happen on your end, but does anyway, both sides are looking for a way out. A graceful way out. You have to GIVE the customer a way out. You know what all the options are – the customer doesn’t. You know what you might give away as a consolation that might satisfy a customer out to get nothing but a 100% refund.
Plan for some “easy-outs” you can give to the customer. Plan a couple levels of easy outs.
If you offer them to the customer and they don’t accept any of them – be prepared to say, “OK”, eat it – and stop wasting your time trying to fight a point that isn’t getting understood.
One angry or dissatisfied customer will cost you 5 future customers, while one satisfied one will give you one or two. Not that the person you say “OK” to in the end will refer anyone new to your business – but, at least he/she probably won’t become someone that really hurts your business by convincing 5 future customers to go elsewhere.
Everything is OK in the end. If you’re 100% focused on providing good products, great service, everything can be OK – because it will help your business in the long-term. You ARE in it for the long-term – aren’t you?