In 1909 Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s Department Store in London coined the phrase “The customer is always right” this in an attempt to convince customers that they will always get good customer service at Selfridge. While that thinking/mind-set may have resonated in 1909 with some customers and to some extent still do today, I believe that today’s customers and business dynamics make that statement less of a fact in this competitive environment. It is true that giving customers what they want is essential to achieve extraordinary success, however, it is an understanding of the “real” needs of customers and satisfying those needs that will set you and your business apart from the competition.
We will not have time to get into the psychology of customers in this blog, but suffice to say that going beyond satisfying a request or meeting a demand, it is having an understanding of what is driving the request and the demand that will lead you to figure out the basis of your customer’s buying decision; whether that decision is to purchase a good or a service. Armed with that knowledge you can proceed to provide the service that will seal the deal, so to speak.
The Ritz Carlton is one of those organizations which took the time to understand the needs of their customers and so they positioned themselves not just as a luxury brand of hotels but “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”. Built into that one statement is the mind-set that we see ourselves as we see our customers and, therefore, the question now becomes…how do you see your customers? Because you will treat your customers as you see yourself.
Everything around the provision of excellent customer services depends on how you see your customers…if you see your customers as deserving the best service then the mind-set of the organization and the staff will be focused on delivering that service. So, it is not that the customer is always right, but regardless of the situation the customer deserves the best service. In other words, the behaviour of the customer should not lower the standard of your service delivery, but rather your service delivery should change the behaviour of the customer.
Here is the G.I.F.T that keeps on giving:
Greet – Greeting your customer is essential to establishing or setting the expectation of the level of service the customer can expect. The customer is a living, breathing, personality and not just a number or a dollar sign and as such, must be made to feel wanted. Warm, friendly, genuine, non-judgmental greeting goes a long way in setting the customer at ease.
Initiate – Initiating a conversation (how may I be of help to you today) around the needs of the customer is an indication of your willingness to listen actively and to understand those needs. Thereby, putting you in a position to not just meet but also satisfy those needs.
Follow-up – not follow…but follow-up to ensure that both you and the customer are on the same page in identifying the need, understanding the need, and if the customer is satisfied with the solution you have provided.
Thank – don’t forget to thank the customer for accessing your service whether they made a purchase or not. It is important to let the customer know that you appreciate his business and you are looking forward to seeing him again.
If you delivered this G.I.F.T correctly, your customers will not just come back but they will tell others about you and your business.
In summing up my final thoughts on this subject, I was inspired by a blog that I read on RustBuilt.com “Change Your “No, Because” To A “Yes, If”
Imagine how this simple mind-set shift can empower us if we adopted it. Instead of facing every new challenge posed by your customers with “No, that’s not possible, because…” imagine if we could change the response to “Yes that is possible if…” and then work on making the ifs’ happen! Just the changing of that key phrase can open your mind to a world of possibilities in the delivery of service that will not just wow your customers but keep them coming back.
By: Conrad Robinson, BA, MBA