The idea that “the customer is always right” was promoted by retailers, including Chicago’s Marshall Field. But IS the customer ALWAYS right?
At Wertheimer Box, we’re committed to customer service at all levels of interaction. That’s the main crux of our mission statement.
That being said, I think we more closely align with the philosophy of leadership coach Chris LoCurto.
LoCurto says, “Great customer service doesn’t mean that the customer is always right, it means that the customer is always honored.”
With decades of industry experience, I (and the other members of the Wertheimer team) aim to ensure that each of our customers is ALWAYS honored.
We let customers know they’re important.
We thank them for trusting in Wertheimer Box. Plus, we let them know that their company’s success is very important to us. We want our customers to be successful. Afterall, their business success is our success. Additionally, we let our customers know that their concerns are also our concerns.
It’s important to never be arrogant or condescending to anyone—especially a customer.
We strive to always tell our customers the truth—never giving them a bunch of doubletalk or nonsense. Never over-promise.
Even if we lose a one-time sale, it’s better if we’re honest in the first place.
What’s more, if we don’t know an answer, we find out. We say, “Let me see what I can do.”
Then we follow up and do just that—whether we agree or not.
Follow-up is so important. It’s a matter of integrity. Honesty and integrity are important to Doug (our president) and all of us at Wertheimer Box. In fact, the first bullet in our mission statement reads, “We’ll perform at the highest level of integrity in all transactions.”
We build relationships with our customers.
From the buyer, to the receiver, to the receptionist, we want to create personal relationships with our customers—even make them part of our work family.
As the former VP of British Airways, Donald Porter said, “Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. But they do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”
After spending four decades in the industry, I can tell you, things do occasionally go wrong. But I find that it’s a lot harder to walk away from a friend.
What’s matters is that we help solve any problems or concerns the customer has.
We need to let the customer know that we agree with them. One way to do that is to use the word “and” rather than “but” to add new information. By using “Yes, and…” rather than “Yes, but…” it can help diffuse a tense situation.
Plus, it’s essential not to argue or “right” fight with your customer. I see it as the same as in a marriage. Your spouse may not always be right, but it’s not that important to let them know that. You have to pick your battles.
With customers, I also find that if the situation does get heated or out of control, a graceful exit is helpful until tempers cool.
We communicate by listening.
Speaking of good marriages, it’s important to have good communication. It’s really important to stop talking, keep your mouth closed, and LISTEN to what the customer is saying. Then, pause and think, and only after thinking about it should you TALK. We should definitely spend more time—maybe 65 percent—of a conversation listening.
So, is the customer always right? Usually. Perhaps it’s the wrong question to ask. What’s most important is that the customer feel honored, appreciated, heard, and respected.
About the Author
Robert (Bob) Maness
Robert (Bob) Maness is a 40-year packaging industry veteran. Over the years he’s worked at five Midwest packaging companies. Bob has dedicated the last 20+ years to Wertheimer Box. His only regret? That he didn’t jump aboard the Wertheimer bus earlier. Bob prefers the positive attitude and respect that the Wertheimer leadership offers. “We’re like family here,” Bob says. We don’t always agree, but you never leave with a bad feeling. “Here, I’m more of a person than a sales number,” he says.
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