Today we’re just 8 days away from the holiday of Christmas. If you work with clients who celebrate Hanukkah you’ve been through your busy season, and if you work with clients who celebrate Kwanzaa your busy season lines up with the Christmas busy season. All of this results (hopefully) in lots of customers! Something that has been hotly debated forever is the topic of who’s right: the customer or the business. So today I wanted to talk about a few aspects of this debate.
Let me start off with my personal opinion. I don’t believe the customer is always right, nor do I believe that you have to bend over backwards, break personal/moral beliefs, or do things that would jeopardize your business or other people’s lives just to make a sale. I believe that whenever reasonably possible we should accommodate (potential) customers, but if “the customer is always right” you’re not in charge of your business, they are. And while you do need (happy) customers to survive and thrive, there have to be boundaries in place so that you don’t end up paying people to be customers.
That said, there’s a lot to be said for having happy customers. Happy customers usually post nice reviews online about you and tell their friends about you, and even come back again. It’s proven that it’s cheaper to have repeat customers than always have to get new ones. So it’s important to make sure that your main product or service is satisfying the customers and you aren’t always recooking food, repairing technology products or offering discounts to make up for poor performance.
How can you turn average customers into a tribe that sings your praises and supports all efforts you do? TD Bank is famous for being open later than other banks and not closing the teller windows on the dot of closing time. Many stores offer bonuses for being good customers and special discounts throughout the year to existing customers. Restaurants typically offer to pack up uneaten food so you can take it home. Some businesses even involve their best customers in their creative process and get their input on or let them try out products or services they’re considering adding.
Yes, you can operate by the letter every time. You can force your employees to keep a strict discipline on what is or isn’t allowed and what they can and can’t do for customers (no matter how much they spend with you every year). Or you can take a look at your business and see how you can be a little more flexible or what you can do to add a little extra something special that will impress your customers that won’t greatly impinge on your operating costs or efforts.
So in the mix of this holiday season are you spreading holiday cheer or looking more like a Scrooge to your employees and customers?