Is the Customer Always Right?
Steve Adubato, Ph.D.
Q-What do you say to those who argue that the customer is NOT always
right? Doesn't the attitude that 'the customer is always right'
reflect a culture where as long as a sale is made the customer can
act like a spoiled child?
A-You have a great point here, except, the expression, "the
customer is always right" doesn't actually mean that the customer
IS always right. It is rather intended to put salespeople and others
who interact with customers in a certain mindset in which it does
little good to argue with a customer because you are not going to
win. Except for the most difficult customer who can't be satisfied,
most just want to be acknowledged and listened to.
Sometimes, people in customer service use store "policies"
as a barrier to resolving a problem with a customer. The key is
to acknowledge that even if the policy was written, usually in small
print, it is not set in stone. The best customer service people
use store policies as a guideline, but not as the final word. They
use their judgment, creativity and empathy to find workable remedies
to customer service problems. The expression, "the customer
is always right" is nothing more than an effort to remind us
to treat the person across the counter as we would want to be treated
if we were the customer.
Q-What if everyone in your family always speaks in a monotone voice?
Is this something that is hereditary or is it learned? Is this a
condition that is treatable?
A-Absolutely! Last time I checked, having a monotone voice isn't
in the genes. I think what happens is that you grow up in a family
where your father and/or mother (and possibly your siblings) speak
in a monotone and you just pick it up thinking it is normal. The
problem is, it is NOT normal. Worse yet, it is really boring to
If you want to get rid of your monotone, reach out to your local
chapter of Toastmasters, an organization dedicated to helping people
improve their public speaking skills. The key to getting rid of
the habit is to speak with more passion and conviction. Make sure
you believe what you are saying and tell yourself "my job is
to convince these people that I have a valid point of view."
What you will discover is that your presentations will have more
vocal variety in them and your voice and tone will go up and down
without you even realizing it.
Q-When running a 90-minute meeting with many goals to accomplish,
what is the best way to make the best use of the time while allowing
everyone to share their comments and ideas?
A-First off, 90 minutes is too long. Cut it back to 60 at most.
Further, you referred to "many goals to accomplish." When
you have too many goals to accomplish in a meeting, you are bound
to have a bad meeting. You will feel pressured as the meeting leader
to move along quickly while meeting participants will feel frustrated
that you are rushing them. Take the number of items planned for
your next meeting and cut them in half. One more thing-As the meeting
leader, you have to set the tone for how the meeting is going to
be run. Let people know up front you would like them to be concise
in their comments and/or questions.
Finally, make sure at the end of the meeting you leave a couple
of minutes to wrap up and recount what has been decided and what
assignments must get done by whom. Try it and let me know what happens.
Dr. Steve Adubato coaches and speaks on the subjects of communication
and leadership and is the author of the book "Speak from the
Heart." Write to him at The Star-Ledger, 1 Star-Ledger Plaza,
Newark, NJ 07102, visit his Web site at www.stand-deliver.com,
or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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