The Customer is Always Right

I always say that the most important asset of a company is its customers, and I will reiterate that again here. If you have no customers, or more accurately, no paying customers—you have no business. It is impossible to have a business without any customers. This gives your customers unbelievable power, they own you! So, if you believe owning a business means you get to be the boss, forget it; the customer is the number one boss, bar none.

If you think that you have worked for some of the most incompetent, god-awful, foolish, horrible superiors before, they may pale in comparison to your new bosses—your customers. This is exacerbated if you work in a business that services end-customers (rather than a business-to-business scenario, which isn’t a picnic either). I have worked for nearly a decade and a half with businesses that sell products and services to the consumer; let me tell you that customers as a group can be beyond anything you have imagined.

Have you ever spoken to someone who works in customer service? If you don’t work directly with customers in your current job, then I suggest you speak with someone who does before going to work serving customers. Some customers will blatantly try to scam you or steal from you. I have spoken to numerous customer service representatives that have recounted stories about people wanting refunds because their dog chewed up a product and now believe it is “defective.” There are the representatives who work for a major bath and home retailer who explained that every year, right after Christmas, customers would return dozens upon dozens of used holiday tablecloths. One customer even had alterations made to the tablecloth to fit her unusually shaped table. The reasons for those returns—it “just didn’t work for me.”

There will be customers that will try to not pay you, there will be ones that try to nickel-and-dime you, customers who return products as damaged that they actually broke themselves, and customers who will take the product out of the box, replace it with something that you don’t even sell, and try to return it for a full refund. There will be customers who will dispute your charge on their credit card because they didn’t like the way they were treated or who will complain that the meal you served them was too cold and needs to be “comped” or discounted. Then, there will be customers who are so lonely that they will want to keep you on the phone, tied-up in person, or engaged in an email dialogue about all of their personal problems (none of which relate to your business).

You will send promotional emails to customers with a 50 percent discount on one item from May 1–6, and dozens will email back asking when the offer is good through, how much is it good for, and whether they can use it when they get paid on May 10. Guess what? All of these people are your new bosses. Lucky you—as a business owner, these are the people for whom you now work!

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