Customers are not always right

Jes 8 Comments

I know I have not seen all after being in sales line for 9 years. After so long, people still continue to surprise me. One thing does not change: Customers are not always right.

They can shout at their top of the lungs, they can scold you for their bad mood, they can shift the blame to you because of their own fault but they cannot escape blame on their part.

I know I am in the service line and I have to give great service to people so that people will recommend our snacks to others. I know excellent service is the way to go with limited marketing budget and tongues are powerful enough to build your own advertising channel. Word-of-mouth can be so useful which is why direct marketing can still do well.

Yet some people don't deserve good service.

You can treat them like kings and queens and they can still spit on you. I know exactly these type of people and they are the customers you should run away from and not do any business. They will only cause trouble and give you additional headaches. No amount of money is worth it.

I recall an incident with a top customer when I started the sales industry. Stocks were delayed and I can't do much besides pushing the shipping company to expedite immediately. Yet I was shouted, berated and threatened forcefully. I pride myself on having high EQ and just took those lashings as they came on for a full 15 minutes at the top of the lungs on the phone.

Sometimes, people just want to vent their anger and it's never good business to shout back, no matter what.

It still left me traumatised to be scolded like a pig and I pity those in customer service who always have to deal with such customers. In the end, the customer sent me a bottle of red wine after the incident and apologised to me. I framed up the wine label as a token of my achievement.

I recall another incident at SnackFirst. A customer started scolding us via private facebook messages that our nuts are terrible and not fresh at all. I should reflect and improve on it instead of charging such high prices. I should not be doing business because I was dishonest. Defending myself will only make things worse so I just apologised and sent them baked nuts, so that they can compare against the raw nuts that they bought. For people who are unaware, raw nuts are not crispy and do not taste as fragrant as baked nuts.

Anyway, no questions asked, I did not take back the nuts too because I know my nuts are definitely fresh, I tasted them before I sent them.

I guess 以柔克刚 which means to use nice gestures to soften harsh blow do really work because the customer became one of my die-hard supporters. He bought raw nuts regularly and when asked about his feedback, he always gave me an 'ok' reply but he kept buying. That's the best compliment I could get. Till today, I have no idea what went wrong, was it the first time he ate raw nuts? Was it that he compared with other sources and find that ours are indeed fresh?

I have no clue but it doesn't matter as long as he keeps buying.

I just have to remember never to shout back because all the customers who lost their cool always ended up apologising for their behaviour. We just have to be professional about it and not take things personally. Never ever blame them but always point out things spoken beforehand and all conditions are best written down in black and white.

Now, on to the next customer!

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  1. When we don't need their business then customers are not always right.

    1. Hi Uncle CW,

      Hahaha, well then don't tell that to their faces! In front of them, just agree that they are right :P

  2. [Alan Wong]
    I like the way you handle your customers (Though not everyone have the temperament for it), I agree customers aren't always right, we're all human after all. Sometimes customers may have a bad day, and that one nut that seems off to them may caused a crazy, explosive fit... this is the downside of being in the service line. Good luck and all the best!

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks for dropping by! It took some time for me to be more 'zen' about the scoldings though, and I was definitely affected by their tempers. Sometimes just unlucky we are the ones getting shouted at because they are shouted by their bosses, vicious cycle!

      Appreciate the luck, I will need it! :)

  3. Hi Jes,

    In the service line myself, totally get what you mean! Just got to tahan and hopefully win them over!

    Though I do need to vent out sometimes.. Not at the customer of course! :P

    1. Hi Wife Say I Niao,

      Wah salute, service line is tough man. Sometimes tahan also very difficult when you are having a bad day and these people think we have no emotions.

      Clever, never vent out on the customers! The sad thing is we always vent out on the people we love, which means our spouses... oh dear.

    2. Oh well...let's just say some people are... nasty?

      Anyway, I try not to vent to on family! thankfully my wife is in the same industry so she understands what I'm saying whenever I rant.. though i admit there are times it spills over unfortunately. :(

    3. Well, the people who understand us the most are the ones who have seen our worst sides, our angry and vulnerable sides and still love us. So, venting is normal but apologising after that is more crucial :)


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