Maybe it’s more of a cliche than actual business advice, but you’ve no doubt heard the saying “The customer is always right.” What should you do when the customer is wrong? Is there ever a time to abandon the politeness of customer service and tell a customer they’re wrong?
We’ll explore this difficult scenario in this blog post as we determine what you should do when the customer is wrong. Sometimes the customer asks for more than you’re offering. Sometimes they don’t like your methods of doing business. Sometimes they’re just having a bad day.
Here’s how to deal with those scenarios in a professional manner.
What Should You Do When the Customer is Wrong?
Even the most customer-centric companies find themselves dealing with customers who are, contrary to the popular saying, not “always right.” What do you do when you find yourself on the losing end of customer battle where you know they’re just wrong? Follow the steps below to handle it like the professional you are.
Know when to tell a customer ‘No’
There are a few scenarios in which it’s not only acceptable, but recommended to tell your customer ‘No.’ Here are three examples:
- When they want something you just don’t have
- When they request or demand a discount
- When they ask for something you aren’t planning on offering
In each of these cases, sure, saying ‘Yes’ might make the customer much happier and more likely to keep doing business with you. But saying ‘Yes’ would also rope you into a lot of stress and problems you wouldn’t have dealt with otherwise – cutting your profits, branching into fields you’re not prepared to, going out of your way to supply a product they want, etc. Saying ‘No’ doesn’t make the customer’s request wrong, it just shows them that you cannot accommodate it at this time.
Learn how to say no when the customer is wrong
If you’re convinced the customer is wrong or has an request or demand you can’t accommodate, saying no politely can be the difference between keeping that customer and losing them to your competition. There are 3 options when you want to say no in a polite, professional way:
- Acknowledge the request or demand. Let them know you heard them loud and clear. It’s one of the steps of active listening, and it’s important because it keeps the other person from getting prematurely defensive. Let them know that you understand their request or demand, then gently let them know why you’re unable to accommodate it. Be honest and empathetic in the communication to keep it civil.
- Offer to do more research. Don’t say no if there’s a chance you could turn it into a yes! Offer to do more research before coming to a decision for your customer. They will feel that you’re on their team and be more confident that you’re paying attention to their needs.
- Refer them to someone who can help. If their request is beyond the scope of what your company offers, don’t be afraid to refer them to another vendor who can help. You’ll stay in their minds as a company who wants to help their customers, not merely keep them away from the competition. Plus, they’ll consider you next time they need something you do provide.
Keep it civil if the customer is wrong
Sandi Krakowski is a well-known influencer in the marketing and customer service fields. In an Entrepreneur article she wrote, she mentioned a few ways to deal with customers that are “too Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” – that might be an exaggeration, but these tips are spot-on.
- “Keep communications stoic, sparse and smile. Write emails the size of a tweet. Psychotic doesn’t do well with 23 paragraphs back and forth. You’ll end up talking like them if you go down that road. Be polite. Be prompt. Be powerful.
- Don’t react. These kind of customers live for reactions. You can tell by the long, long emails that go back and forth through your client care department and then the hemorrhaging all over Facebook and Twitter. Take your time. Respond. If you need advice, ask an attorney.
- Keep your focus on the ball. Your other customers are where your focus is. I don’t believe in obsessing about my competitors and I refuse to obsess about a client who in a regular brick-and-mortar environment would be escorted out by security. Serve well. Don’t get distracted.”
Your customers won’t always be right, and neither will you. The real key to great customer interactions and delivering an above-average customer experience is being able to listen actively and discern when to take action. Complaints and demands can be great ways to learn more about what your customers want from your business. If you’re open to learning from customers whether the customer is right or when the customer is wrong, you’ll always manage to find success.