“The customer is always right!”
I know more than a few customer service agents that would vehemently disagree with this point of view.
In my experience with challenging customer situations, I’d estimate that it to be true about 10% of the time. And that another 10% of the time the customer was wrong. It’s in the remaining 80% that the truth resides – where a confluence of well-meaning efforts on both sides have accumulated into a lousy situation.
While most of us dread these customer challenges, we should be thankful for each of them. The challenges are gifts. Win or lose, if this is the standard by which you judge, we only “win” from the experience.
The gift we receive is an opportunity to accomplish one of two things. We can substantiate our opinion and bolster it with yet another example of why it is correct. Alternatively, we can learn something new about a solution that otherwise may have remained unseen.
If most of the time the challenge is caused by a series of well-intended events, then most of the time we are learning something new. We are seeing a broken process, a skill set that needs to be improved, a product/solution defect, or an unintended consequence that we hadn’t seen coming. All of these situations provide an opportunity to improve, change, and become better. Used to the positive, even if the situation negatively impacts you or your company, you will emerge the wiser.
Ironically, we dwell on the negative or the potential negative much of the time. We make our livings assessing risk, looking for inefficiencies, and anticipating possible things that could go wrong. We engage in customer issues and work to resolve problems. So, with this somewhat negative predisposition, how do we navigate to the place where we can accept the gift of the challenge?
Modern-day philosopher, Ken Wilber, steals a page from the ancient Stoics when he writes “…ultimately to try to escape distress merely perpetuates that distress. What is so upsetting is not the distress itself, but our attachment to that distress. We identify with it and that alone is the real difficulty.” Applying this sage advice to customer challenges we can embrace the lessons learned and identify with the value of improvement, not the distress that could accompany it.
How will you process the next customer problem you will inevitably face in the coming days or weeks? Will you be frustrated? Will you file it away to be leveraged in a future negotiation? Will you be perfunctory in your acknowledgment to the customer that the issue is resolved?
Maybe you can process it as the gift that it is. Be thankful. Not because you expect something in return. Rather that you received the opportunity to help a client, improve your company, and raise yourself above the difficult circumstances to learn something new.
The customer may not be always right but they could always be a gift…but that’s for you to choose.
To read more in Dan Leary’s Voice of the Customer series, click below!