Two Customer Service Myths
MYTH– the Customer is ALWAYS right.
This is often the first rule most companies drill into their employees. The fact is some of us (the customer) are lazy, obnoxious, or mean and most of us carry a sense of entitlement causing us to believe, ‘I’m giving them my business and my money; they should cater to everything I request’.
An example of when the customer is wrong?
They want something illegal.
I experienced this frequently while managing an auto parts store. The most outrageous example was a local garage owner who would ask us to mark up the prices on his invoice. He wanted it to show a higher price than he actually paid, so he could charge his customer even more. No, not happening.
FYI- The automotive parts industry, this includes retail stores, dealerships and junk yards basically have three pricing levels. 1-List price, 2-Retail price, 3-Commercial Price. The system is designed to allow mechanics and garages to make money on not only the labor but the parts as well.
‘List Price’ Is highest price point you’ll see for parts. Who/How these prices are determined, I don’ know nor does it matter for this discussion.
‘Retail Price’ Is the price you and I would pay if we walked into the store and purchased the part for ourselves.
‘Commercial Price’ Is the price your mechanic paid for the part. Almost always a disoucnt from retail. Depending on the the part it may be a small discount on others a much deeper discount from retail.
Before agreeing to have service done ask your mechanic where he/she gets the parts from. Call or visit the parts store yourself get an idea of the retail cost for the parts. Bottom line is never pay your mechanic more for a part you could have purchased yourself at retail pricing.
Ok, back on track….
TRUTH– The customer is often wrong (wanting illegal or unethical practices, didn’t read the instructions, wasn’t home to accept delivery). It’s the business leaders responsibility to ensure even especially these customers are handled with the charm and etiquette true to service leadership.
MYTH– Customer Service is just words used by businesses to get us into the store.
I have had the displeasure of working as a manager for such a company. During the interview process and scattered throughout the company’s employee handbook was customer service this, and customer service that. For a guy who is really passionate about what he does the propaganda quickly drew me in. It didn’t take me long to realize my immediate supervisor didn’t share my passion. I could go on and on about my disgust for this manager and the higher-ups that allowed her to consistently let down our customers, but, those stories are for another time. Let’s just leave it at this was a company who said “We’re all about customer service!” out loud, and then secretly to themselves thought “It’s all about the dollar.”
I have also experienced the great pride that comes from working for a company that truly understands and gets behind the idea of providing legendary customer service. This company made it very easy. Do what’s right for the customer for the customer and you’ll never be wrong. Don’t worry about gross margin, if the customer says it’s cheaper somewhere else give them a discount, take their word for it. While working for this company one of my Team Members seemed to struggle with the thought of taking back every single return the customers brought into the store. While working the counter with him one day we saw a customer getting out of his car with two bags of parts he was going to return. I could see the anxiety on my employees face. Before the customer entered the store I asked him how much money he had in his pockets. He looked at me funny and pulled out a handful of crumpled up bills. Seventeen dollars he said to me. By now the customer was in the store and together we took care of our customer and less than five minutes later he left with over $100 in hand from returning the parts. ‘Man that kills me.’ Said my side kick
How much money do you have your pocket now? I asked him. Same as before he said seventeen dollars. It was amazing I think I actually saw the light turn between his ears. From that day he understood how extremely easy our company had made it for guys like he and I. Take care of the customer and you’ll always be right.
TRUTH– There are companies with a true desire to provide us with the service we deserve. And it may surprise you to know that it was the big corporation that stood with me and shared my passion, while the small family owned store said one thing and did another.
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