Knowing When The Customer Isn't Right

“The customer is always right.”

A great premise that isn’t always true.

A great leader should be able to discern this.

A great leader will discern when the customer isn’t right, and when the employee is.

A young man who worked in retail told me last week how a customer approached him and asked about buying a display item, which was not for sale. But due to store policy, the display item had a price tag on it, although invalid. The customer persisted to tell the employee it was for sale, and after explaining a few different ways, the retail employee asked “How about I get my manager to find out?”

The customer agreed and the young man radioed his manager. When he looked up the customer was gone. He looked around for them, and they were no where to be found.

About 5 minutes later, his manager approached him and asked about the situation. The manager had just left the customer and they had told the manager that the employee said the display item was for sale. The employee relayed the truth of the situation.

The manager said that’s not what the customer said, and employee replied “But that’s not what happened.” After a pause, the manager said “You’ve never lied to me before, so I’m assuming you’re telling me the truth here.”

The employee was frustrated becuase during the exchange with his manager, he felt his manager’s doubt and taking the customer’s side before getting his input.

While the manager ended up doing the right thing by taking the employee’s side in the end, he should have been neutral in his judgment until he heard both sides.

In our efforts to take care of the customer at all costs, we sometimes forget to take care of our people.

We never want to lose a sale, a customer, or have a bad reputation because we didn’t take care of the customer. But when the customer isn’t right, and we chose their side to the expense of the employee, we oftentimes lose more than that customer.

We lose higher costs through turnover, lost productivity due to disengaged employees, lost trust and credibility, and loss of influence in your leadership.

With the increase in employees going online to research both companies and individual leaders and choosing to work in places where employees are valued, not listening with neutrality and finding when the customer isn’t right will prevent people from seeking employment with your company, or you as a leader specifically.

A great leader will discern when the customer isn’t right, and when the employee is.

It all starts with simply valuing your people and asking them.

How will you approach the next situation like this? Leave a comment below!

(image: Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)

About Paul LaRue

My goal - To encourage you to lead & influence others with positive impact.

Posted on January.5.2020, in Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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