Creating and maintaining boundaries in business can be like walking a tight rope. When I started in real estate as a 21 year old I was told the customer was always right. I’m sure you’ve heard that old adage. It was an appropriate mentality for me at that time since everyone knew more than I did at that stage of the game. I was learning at mach speed but I was just barely an adult myself and I was assisting people older than my parents with their largest financial instrument.
Most of us eventually realize that every customer is not always right. Customers are human too and they are as imperfect as the rest of us. They have bad hair days, wild hormones and sometimes real life trauma. Sometimes you just have to give them some grace. Say it’s okay and let’s start over. Other times the customer is not right because they are hostile or verbally abusive. In those (very rare) instances the customer is most definitely not right and it is time to end the relationship. Regardless of whether the situation is lucrative or not….there is no place in our lives for that. A hostile or abusive customer or client does not get better with time. These situations go from bad to worse quickly.
It can be very dangerous to stay in the “customer is always right” mentality long term because we end up subjecting ourselves to unnecessary stress. If you are going to work with the public in any capacity it is important to know when to give grace and when to walk away.
There is a third group of disagreeable consumers and I believe that they are the most common type. I think they have been the recipient of poor customer service one too many times and they are not going to stand for it anymore. They have learned through experience that the squeaky wheel gets greased….and they intend to squeak. They have a legitimate point since I believe customer service has indeed been on the decline in many industries in this last generation.
Let’s change our strategy! Instead of proving these squeakers right by shrinking back from their expectations lets lean in. Ask you customers what level of service would satisfy them and then knock their socks off by exceeding them! Stay on the front end of the conversation. Be the lead communicator with your clients. Anticipate their needs and beat them to the punch.
Know when to give some grace, when to walk away and when to lean in.