The customer is always right, except when they’re wrong
When retailers started incorporating the oft-repeated motto “The customer is always right” in the early 1900’s, they had the best of intentions. Hoping to improve customer service, increase customer satisfaction, and encourage customer loyalty, the motto gave life to a new era in customer service. And while many companies still live by this motto today, a new breed of customer-facing companies and organizations are starting to sing a different tune.
When growing your brand and your business, it’s important to consider the kind of company you want to become. Balancing and responding to customer complaints isn’t an easy job, but someones got to do it, and that someone probably shouldn’t assume the customer is always right. What was good for business in the 1900’s isn’t necessarily good for business now and taking a “sometimes the customer is wrong” approach won’t damn your business like some business folk might have you believe.
3 reasons the customer isn’t always right
1. Sometimes the customer is wrong and employees shouldn’t suffer for it
You hired an amazing staff and you hired that staff to fill specific roles within your company. At a certain point you have to trust that your employees know how to do the job that you hired them for (if you don’t trust them to do that, perhaps you need to consider why). With an understanding that your employees are good at their jobs, understand your product, and want the company to succeed, it stands to reason that they are occasionally (if not usually) right. Your employees should understand your product better than anyone else and this in-depth knowledge of your product probably gives them a better understanding of how your customers can use it.
When a customer complains, entertain the idea that the customer could be wrong and your employee could be right. Assuming the customer is always right means assuming that those interacting with the customers are always wrong. That’s not fair to them and it will make them feel under-appreciated and under-valued. And why would they want to stay with and continue to defend a company that doesn’t appreciate or value them? I wouldn’t.
2. Sometimes the customer doesn’t fit your brand/product/service
What do you sell and who do you market to? Often, you’ll find that your ideal customer is not your only customer, and you can expand your target market accordingly. You should not, however, expand your brand to fit the people that will never really fit.
We sell software as a service (SaaS). We’re an SaaS company. Our software is a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. If you don’t have relationships you’re interested in managing better, we’re probably not for you. If you’re not sure where the power button is on your computer, we’re probably not for you. We don’t want people that don’t find value in relationship management or that don’t know how to use the internet to buy our product. And that’s not because we hate money. We want to make a profit just like anyone else, but at what cost?
If someone that won’t find value out of our service buys it anyway, we’re still going to spend time trying to train them on it and explaining the value of it, just like any other customer; but the return on the investment for us in zilch. We want to put our time and our energy into customers that will stick with us, grow with us, and provide constructive feedback. Sometimes we just have to say “maybe our service isn’t for you” and let them follow another path.
3. Sometimes the customer is a jerk.
Companies spend a lot of time pretending this one is not a thing. People are quick to openly complain about bad customer service. Your waitress was horrible? Tell everyone on Facebook. You couldn’t return the Ralph Lauren dress without a receipt? Tweet about it. And make sure you tag the responsible parties. But companies? Companies don’t typically talk about their bad customers. It’s really not good form. No one wants to give their business to a company that calls out horrible customers because we all worry that someday it could be us they’re tweeting about.
But here’s the thing: All of your customers are not nice people. Go ahead and read that a couple more times until it sinks it. Just like in the real world, the chances that everyone you will encounter as a company are decent people that want the best for you are pretty slim. Consider that the next time someone reaches out to criticize your product or your team. Assess whether their complaint is valid and/or constructive and react appropriately. There are going to be times when people have no interest in complaining as an effort to improve your company or your product; they just want to complain. Loudly. Don’t give into the negativity.
It’s not always easy to figure out if the customer is right or wrong – and sometimes they’re neither – but it’s always worth looking into. Assuming the customer is always right doesn’t always help your business and in some cases can even harm it. Know how to weed out constructive criticism, how to get to the root of customer problems, and how to position your brand to target your ideal customer. Each of these pieces will help you to find customers that are often right and customers with a vested interest in your company’s success. When customers are right, respond accordingly and take action when necessary, and when customers are wrong, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it as kindly as possible.
Emphasis on kind. You don’t want to be the next viral social media disaster.
Contactually — now with helpful notifications!
Nobody likes not knowing what’s going on, especially since modern web and mobile applications have trained us to expect little red numbers or drop-down messages every time someone so much as posts a picture.
So while notifications can be overdone, they’re also an important part of staying connected, which is what Contactually is all about. That’s why we’ve (a) added notifications to Contactually, and (b) tried to do so in a way that works the way you’d expect, with no funny business. read more…
Contactually loves to party
When in New Orleans, do as the New Orleanians do, right? Well, we’re certainly trying, at least. We sent Brian, Alexandra, Grey and Brandt down for this year’s NAR Conference, and decided they needed some backup in the form of The Big Fun Brass Band.
So far, they have not disappointed.
Delving into the bookmarks of the most interesting man in the world
One of the reasons we feel comfortable writing to entrepreneurs of all stripes is that many of us are entrepreneurs ourselves. Some of us are being exposed to this roller-coaster for the first time here at Contactually, while others are long-time business-building junkies, here for yet another go-around.
But you could make a reasonable argument that nobody here is quite as knowledgeable about entrepreneurship as Contactually’s co-founder and CEO, Zvi Band. And while you may know him from Twitter, his involvement in the DC startup community, or this awesome eBook full of relationship management hacks for entrepreneurs, you probably don’t know a lot about how he stays up on the many things that affect his world.
One thing Zvi and I (and probably you) have in common is that we read a LOT of stuff online. In the interest of expanding my entrepreneurial expertise (and giving you something to read, and possibly sucking up to the guy who runs my company), I asked him to recommend some good sources of content.
So, without further adieu, here’s what Zvi’s looking at every day, along with some of my initial observations. read more…
When something goes wrong…
Let’s address the horrible, awkward elephant in the room — sometimes, you don’t have the experience you want with Contactually. Something might be broken, or have changed, or could just be confusing and weird. It happens.
We try to anticipate as many of these things as possible, but believe it or not, you lovable customers are all so DIFFERENT! You use Contactually for different things, in ways we couldn’t imagine (which we love, but can be scary for us), in different places at different times. Sometimes, we’re like a hockey team in a big game where there are 5,000 guys on the other team, and they all have pucks.
What the heck, let’s run with the metaphor a little longer. Our Customer Success team members are our defenders, running around and trying to intercept problems before they get you stuck. But behind them, always ready, is our last line of defense. It’s the goalie, Contactually Support.
Where would we be without Penny?
At some point, our metaphor breaks down, because we actually have more than one goalie. We have a bunch of them, and they work their asses off, often with people on our Product and Sales teams, to try to make things right in a crazy variety of problem scenarios. But as we get more and more users, who’s making sure that system works? Who keeps those goalies fired up, ready to go, and equipped to help the most frustrated Contactually users at their most challenging moment?
Penny does! And for the last two years, she’s been doing everything she can to make a better world for our customers.
What can you learn in six months on the job?
As I mentioned the other day, I’ve now been at Contactually for six months. That means it’s official — I can now quit without looking like a flake. JUST KIDDING, GUYS.
Still, while I’m not going anywhere, there’s something about working somewhere for six months, isn’t there? For most people, getting a new job is kind of like the opposite of being elected President. Instead of your first one hundred days being your best chance to enact sweeping, positive change, most jobs involve a pretty decent feeling-out period, especially if you’re building a new team within an organization, or are the first person performing a new job. Sure, you’ll try to get right to work, but every business, every market, and every product is a little different. It simply takes time to figure that stuff out, and it can be really frustrating at times if you’re eager to make a difference (but hesitant to break anything important).
I’ve gone through this process a couple of times, and I think my time at Contactually has been as instructive as anywhere. So based on that experience, here are some new-employee goals that I think can help anybody acclimate, win over, and improve their new organization.
At Contactually, we have business owners come to us all the time needing help to grow their business, get more leads and convert those leads to customers. It’s really what Contactually is all about. As such, I wanted invite Jason Economides, CEO of ECO Business Academy and one of our esteemed partners for some marketing best practices and tips that any business owner could use immediately. We interviewed Jason recently, and he gave us some really great answers to some pretty pressing marketing questions. Read on to learn more!
Contactually: Hi Jason! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today. We really value your input and know from all of the sold-out webinars we have done with you, that businesses can really benefit from your knowledge and expertise. I know how valuable your time is, so let’s dive head first into the interview.
So, first off, what do you think are the most important resources (e.g. collateral, tag lines, etc.) for a business to have when first getting started?
Jason Economides: Well, frankly – and this always sounds like a sales pitch, but it really isn’t, the first key resource businesses need to get is professional help.
Contactually: You obviously don’t mean a psychotherapist….