What to Do When the Customer is Not Right

Lauren Krause
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You have probably heard this familiar refrain: “The customer is always right.” However, this is not always the case. Sometimes the customer is wrong, and your customer service department has to deal with it. Although you might want to comply with your customer’s every request, there are many reasons not to do so.

When Saying No Is the Right Thing to Do

An article from Entrepreneur, “What to Do When the Customer Is Wrong,” says that new companies make the common mistake of saying yes to every customer request. This leads to a company with no clear identity, which can hurt your business. These are circumstances in which saying no to customers is the right move:

1. When they ask for something your company does not offer. Chances are that this product or service has already been considered by the company and discarded because it didn't fit company goals or parameters.

2. When customers request something that is nonessential. Although a certain aspect of the product may be important to the customer, it is not always right for the company to offer it.

3. When customers want to pay a lower rate. Customer service should never lower prices for one customer. If many customer complaints involve the cost of the product or service, you should analyze the market to see if lowering the price makes sense.

How Customer Service Can Say No Without Losing the Customer

Although saying no to customers can be tricky, it is possible to do it in a way that makes the customer feel good. According to the article, “Three Words to Avoid When Talking to a Customer,” there are words than can negatively affect the conversation. These simple words can cause problems when responding to customer complaints:1. No: This word stops the conversation, making customers think you cannot help them. Instead of saying no, offer a solution. For instance, if the customer requests that a damaged smartphone be replaced, but your company does not offer that service, you can suggest a service that your company does have, such as a repair service.

2. Can’t: When a customer service agent says “can’t,” customers interpret this as an unwillingness to fix the problem. They think the agent is just being stubborn and uncaring. So, offer to take some action. For instance, if customers want you to remove late fees, tell them you don’t know if you can do that, but you will ask a manager and get back to them. This shows you care about their problem and are doing something to solve it.

3. Buy: When trying to upsell a customer, the word "buy" has a negative meaning. Instead of "buy," say something like, “This item is half off the regular price this week only. Would you like to take advantage of this sales price?”

Customer service can be a difficult job, especially when customers believe that they are always right. However, as long as you say no in a way that still offers the customer a solution, you should be able to keep your customers happy.


Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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