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The Customer is Not Always Right (VIDEO)


“The customer is always right.” These words were said famously by Harry Gordon. Is the customer always right? I don’t think so. I’m Matt Jones, your professor of WebPunch’s School of Online Reputation and today, we’re going to be talking about your employees and how to make them happier. And why, sometimes, that customer just is flat-out wrong.


Richard Branson famously said that your employees are your business, and this idea that he had, and that many people have today, is that there are certain times when those customers are acting in such a way that they’re not right. Instead of making sure that they’re always the priority, we’re actually going to make our employees the priority and here’s why; happy customers come from happy employees. So on this conveyor belt, you can see the customer going in and interacting with your company/employees and coming out as a happy customer when he’s dealing with these people who have a great attitude, are professional, and have a lot in pride in what they’re doing, which are symptoms of things that happy employees have.

So again, they’re empowered, they’re respected. They know that you love them and that you appreciate all the things they’re doing to make your business work. It’s interesting, statistically speaking, when employees are given the option to have more money or more recognition in the workplace – most often, they choose recognition. And so, in order to have a happy employee, it’s really important that you recognize the amazing work and sacrifices that they do for your company. In fact, Forbes Magazine came out with an article talking about Millennials and it said: “How often do Millennials need to be recognized in order to be happy in their place of work?” And the answer, on average, was every seven days. So make sure that you’re recognizing the work that your employees are doing. Make sure that you’re empowering them. Make sure that if there’s a customer who comes in who’s acting unfairly and using words that are inappropriate or harsh, make sure that you back your employee. And make sure that they know that they don’t have to deal with abusive behavior in the workplace because you really care for them and want them to be happy. And when you do that it’s going pass on to each of your customers.

It’s interesting because we say fire those meanies. Because sometimes it’s okay to fire your customers. I was at a restaurant a couple of years ago with my wife and there was a couple next to us who got into a big fight, and the fight kind of spilled over into the ambiance of the restaurant. They were saying really harsh things back and forth and everyone around just felt terribly uncomfortable. I really wish that the manager had gone over and told the waiter (I think it was called waiter at that point) that they didn’t have to be around that, because the people started yelling at the waiter and it was a very uncomfortable situation for us, as patrons of the restaurant, but also for all the staff members as well. Sometimes as business owners, you have customers who are just causing undue contention and stress and causing your team to lose focus and it’s okay to walk away from customers once in a while. Some things are worth more than money and I think self-dignity, self-respect, and caring about the people around you and showing them that those relationships mean more than that particular transaction is going to pay dividends later on. Those employees are going to stand by you and they’re more likely to work harder and go the extra mile, which is going to create even more happy customers.

It’s not like we’re saying “Hey, when there’s a customer who’s unhappy, you should just ignore them.” No, that’s not the case. But if there’s a customer who is creating this undue stress and abusive environment towards your employees, it’s okay to walk away from them. And when you do that, you fortify the relationship you have with the people who make your company operate, so that’s what we’re saying here.

It’s interesting because you only have so many resources. And if you had to dedicate those resources to just one group, I would say it’s probably either your employees, (making them really happy), and also maybe the happy customers, even more than the unhappy customers. Because again, your happy customers are the ones who are going to be referring their friends and family to your business, they’re more likely to be repeat customers, and they’re less likely to take valuable customer service resources. So you know, it’s okay to walk away from customers if they are continually impossible to please, etc.

So how do you learn from your employees? I think the most exceptional companies in the world today are the ones who pay attention to the details and really get those right. Your employees know the sticking points and the points of your business’s processes that aren’t going really well for the customers or just in general so it’s important to talk to your employees. Survey them. Get out there, walk around, and take them to lunch. Have roundtables, have brainstorming sessions, and have them help you to understand if any points of your business aren’t running optimally. These are the people who are on the front lines and they know the ins and outs of the processes they’re using to interact with your customers. So make sure you understand what they’re saying.

And then even more than that, and what we always say with customer feedback, is that it’s really worthless unless you go one extra step and take action to improve those processes. And when you do that, you also show your employees, “Hey, we’re listening to you and we’re going to change things so that your lives are better, but also, that’s going to make the customer’s life better as well.” We’re really into that.

How does this have anything to do with reputation? Well, the formula goes like this: if you have happy employees, they’re going to do great work and they’re will convey that enthusiasm on to your customers. When you have happy customers, they’re going to write good reviews for you online and your happy employees are more likely to write reviews for you online as well. When companies are looking at you as a potential business partner or to use your services, they’re going to look to your online reputation. And more and more, they’re not only going to see your customers’ reviews, but also your employees’ reviews on sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, and we talk about that a lot.

The public wants to see how you interact not only with your customers but your employees, and really, everywhere that your company touches the public. They want to see that you treat those people really well and they’re more likely to do business with you if you do that. So treat your employees well, treat everyone really well, be kind, be compassionate, stand by those who make your business run, and that will help you knock out the competition one review at a time, and also, just help your overall reputation.


Matt Jones

Matt Jones is a co-founder of WebPunch. When he’s not WebPunching, he is exploring the world, taking photos, creating edible art or making gains in the gym. The main love and joy of his life though is his little boy Mac, who is his best friend.