The Customer is Always Right - Good Customer Service is Good Business

Good customer service is good for business.
Good customer service is good for business. | Source

The Customer is King

Customers are the lifeblood of your business. How customers feel about your product or service matters most. You want to hear what they have to say about you, your staff, your product, or your service. Give your customers a chance to complain. Instead of just asking if everything is alright, ask them if there is anything you can do to make things better for them. Then, let them tell you. Don’t try to defend yourself. The customer is king and the customer is always right. It is their experience that matters most. Let the customer tell you about their experience so that you can learn what it takes to improve service and win a lifelong customer.

Customer Service Statistic:

91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your organization again. Source: Lee Resource Inc.

Customer Service Statistics:

A dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC

Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4 to 6 people about their experience. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC

When a Customer Asks for a Refund, Give it to Them With a Smile

It is better to give the customer a refund than to let the customer walk away unhappy. Studies show that unhappy customers tell more people about their experience than happy customers. When a customer is unhappy with a product or service, they are quick to call all of their family and friends to complain, and if they are really unhappy, they go to consumer related websites, such as Yelp, or TripAdvisor to warn potential customers about a potentially bad product or service. Unhappy people see their actions as a “public service”, so the more people they forewarn, the better they feel about themselves.

A happy customer will also tell other people, however a happy customer typically does not go out of their way to spread the good word about your awesome customer service. If someone asks, then, of course, the happy customer is willing to share their experience, but they generally are not going out of their way to comment.

Customer Service Statistic:

For every customer complaint, there are 26 other customers who have remained silent. Source: Lee Resource Inc

More Customer Service Tips

  • Respond to their phone calls promptly. Don’t keep your customers waiting for you to pick up the phone. Answer the phone by the second ring and answer the phone with a smile to let your customer know how much you appreciate their call.
  • Respond to their e-mails promptly. We live in a world where time is valuable. Don’t keep your customer waiting to hear from you.
  • Make a diligent effort to go over and above the call of duty. You want the customer to be thoroughly satisfied. The happier they are, the more likely they will be to shop with you again.

Customer Service Statistic

It takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one negative experience. Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner

  • Let customers know that you appreciate their business. Don’t just take customers’ money and say thank you. Show them that you are grateful that they chose to do business with you instead of the competition. Follow up with a phone call, a thank you card, an email – something that goes beyond the end of the transaction.

The Customer is Always Right

If you are in business to make money, you need the customer more than the customer needs you. If the customer is not happy, you lose the opportunity to earn money.

You are in business to sell your product or service. Your main focus should be on satisfying the customers' needs. With that being the case, the customer is always right.

Learn What it Takes to Deliver Good Customer Service

Zappos is an extremely successful business with excellent customer service. The primary goal of Zappos employees is to satisfy the customers. Watch this 1:11 video to learn some of the secrets Zappos uses to gain loyal customers.

Customer Service Secrets That Made Zappos Successful

More Customer Service Statistics

For more information about customer service, visit the InsightSquared Blog and read their blog showing 100 Customer Service Statistics.

Author Experience in Customer Service

MarleneB, a real estate broker, has been a licensed REALTOR® since 1989. While still licensed, MarleneB is retired from active sales. Having been CEO of a real estate brokerage and VP of a publishing corporation, MarleneB shares knowledge and experience for business owners.

© 2012 Marlene Bertrand

More by this Author

Comments 29 comments

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 17 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Thank you Au fait. Sometimes, it's a challenge, especially when the customer is, shall we say... not nice. We have to sink into a mindset that says, no matter what the situation is, the customer is right and as representatives of the company we must try to do the best we can to appease them... within company guidelines, of course.

Au fait profile image

Au fait 17 months ago from North Texas

Customer service is so important I think it could make or break a business, especially a small business. You make a lot of excellent points here.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 22 months ago from Northern California, USA Author

Yes, colorfulone, the customer is king. They will spread a bad experience like a wildfire goes through dry brush in a forest.

colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 22 months ago from Minnesota

I totally agree that the customer if king for any business. Satisfied customers talk and will refer people they know to a business that they have had good service with. That is how loyal customers are made.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi bn9900! I actually think it works both ways. Sometimes, customers come in with a bad attitude and it's difficult to want to offer service with a smile to them, nevertheless, I believe it is wise to offer exceptional service to every customer, even to the ones we think don't deserve it.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Yes, moonlake, good customer service is a concept that a lot of the younger clerks fail to grasp.

bn9900 profile image

bn9900 3 years ago from Alger WA

Moonlake-remember good customer service starts with good customers.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Customer always right I wish everyone believed that. It's not easy now days to get good customer service but your advice is right on.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi bn9900. Yes. I hear you on that issue. Like I said, shysters - people who are trying to scam the system don't deserve special treatment. A lot is subjective when dealing with customers. Some people should not even be considered customers. To me, customers are people who deal with the company in good faith. A person, like the one in your example most certainly does not deserve a refund. But, a customer who is dealing in good faith, who really didn't make the calls, deserves a refund, as I know you would give them - because they are honest and they are not trying to pull a fast one on you.

Taking the attitude that the customer is always right doesn't mean that you can't verify their information, like the representative in your scenario. Trust... then verify. There is nothing wrong with that.

By the way, it's amazing how people come on strong and demanding and then hang up the phone when they are busted. We should be able to charge an extra service fee when they try to extract money from the company with false claims.

bn9900 profile image

bn9900 3 years ago from Alger WA

Marlene- I work in a call center so all we can do is take what the customer says, but also we can research theissue by looking back at previous bills and notes from previous calls. "The customer is always right" is only an attitude by customers who feel they should get special treatment. A rep in our center had a call go like this:

Customer: I have a number on my bill that I never called, I don't know who it is, can you reverse the charges?"

Rep, sure, I can look into that for you, can I put you on hold while I look into this"

Customer: "Sure"

Rep calls the number and finds out it is his cousin and he's been calling him daily for 3-5 minutes per call.

Rep: "Mr X I just called that number and it is your cousin, he confimed that you call him multiple times per day.

Customer knowing he was caught read handed sheepishly ended the call with out any refund.

I have no problem with issuing refunds if there is evidence to support it, but we operate under strict guidelines and a lot of it is subjective, if you are rude to us, you are less likely to get what you want. 95% of my billing related calls are people who didn't read their bill right, and the charges are legit, the other 5 % I will gladly refund the charges if the research shows there was an error or misunderstanding.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 3 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi bn9900. Yes. There are bound to be customers that you will not be able to please, no matter what you do. "The customer is always right" is an "attitude" that we take in order that we give them the best service that we can. By operating from the assumption that they are right, we are less prone to argue with them. When we assume they are right, we listen better and try to work with them. Sometimes, the customer IS wrong, but taking the attitude thay they are right puts the service person in the frame of mind to serve them, no matter what.

And, I would probably give a refund to the person in your flower shop scenario, because I think most people would be too embarrassed to bring back an old wilted flower, because it says more about them than the florist. But, if they are the kind of person who would bring back old wilted flowers, then they are the kind of person who, if left unsatisfied, would shout it to the world. I would rather give them a refund and have them be happy so they could shout how happy they are. I understand the concern that everyone would start to bring things back to get the refund, but it is not likely to happen, especially because most people buy flowers as gifts. To bring the flowers back would mean taking the gift back. But, I know that is just a hypothetical situation. Actually, I believe most people would not buy something just to return it. It is just as much of a hassle for them to return an item, especially now with the cost of gas and all. Besides, most people are honest. The question to ask is whether or not the customer is truly unhappy (in which case, a refund is certainly due) or just scamming the company (in which case, no refund is due).

Remember, it is all about serving customers and not serving shysters. Dishonest people get no love from me.

Thanks so much for commenting. I enjoyed reading your point of view and learning of a different way to handle customers.

bn9900 profile image

bn9900 3 years ago from Alger WA

Interesting hub, however I disagree with one thing you mention, and that is always give the customer a refund. I work in CS and we were told not to just give out refunds on a whim, even if they ask for it. We must look into the situation that is warrenting the call and request. Now we have a Goodwill policy that we can give up to a 25 dollar credit if the customer is really adiment, however if our research indicates that there was a misunderstanding, such as an activationfee that they forgot about, but then they remember being told about we will not refund them the activation fee. We were told to look at it this way, if you were running a flower shop and a customer came in complaining that they did not like the cut flowers they bought 3 days ago and they wanted a refund, would you give them one? No because the flowers were already dying, and could not be resold, we would loose the cost of the flowers and the money we just gave to the customer, we would loose to much on the sale. Not to mention ifyou allow people to take advantage of you they will continue to do so.

Now for going above and beyond, I had a customer the other day that was livid, I spent an hour and a half trying to satisfy her however in the end it was to no avail due to policies, I even called three of our stores in her area to see if they could help but they were unable, so even though I was unable to do anything, I apologized and gave her a 25 dollar goodwill credit as we call it. She wasn't happy, but she didn't blame me, just the company, It is interesting that the customer is always right attitude is still so prevelent, when so many take advantage. Yes you need customers to make money, but pleaseing them by gving refunds and freebies will sink you just as fast.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi rajan jolly. I do agree that it is quite important that the product or service being offered must be of the quality that people can stand behind and serve well. Excellent customer service is not so valuable if the product is not worthy. Right? Thank you for your feedback.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Some fine tips here to keep customers satisfied and loyal. Of course, the service or product quality has to be worth backing. Good customer service does go a long way in making a business successful.

Voted up, useful.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Excellent insight, Lipnancy. Bad experiences lead to bad reviews. Satisfying the unhappy customer as quickly and as best as possible is always the better decision.

Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

You do bring up an excellent point about serving unhappy customers quickly. This way, you are less likely to get bad PR from them.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi dahoglund, you are right about how businesses treat people like abstractions. Companies seem tuned out to how the customer affects a company's existence and bottom line. I see more and more disregard, which is what drew me to the online world in the first place, but now online I experience more dejection and disregard for me as a customer. I wonder how far companies can go before they realize they are pushing customers away. By the way, thank you for your feedback and for sharing.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Treating customers right is sort of a matter of being "the right thing to do." Modern technology tends to lull us into treating people like abstractions. We need to remember that they are people. sharing with my followers

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi Suzie HQ, I agree, some businesses just don't get it. One place I have experienced a lot of unjust treatment is at the higher end retail establishments. Sometimes, the clerks are so snotty and rude. I don't understand what that's all about. One time my husband and I went into a store to buy him a suit for a presentation he was doing. We walked in - dressed casually, not sloppily. The first clerk we interacted with treated us like we were second class citizens. Another clerk came running from the back and started working with us. Our purchase was a company reimbursed - spare no expense purchase. So, a couple thousand dollars later, the second clerk was happy for the commission he stood to receive all because he helped us buy a really nice suit, shirt, tie, belt, socks, and shoes. You never know who is going to walk through the door. Good customer service is paramount to the success of businesses.

Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Marlene,

Excellent observations here and so well written! Your statistics are a great addition. Businesses often forget how harmful bad word of mouth is, it can crucify a business. Coming from the retail business I have worked in many types of shops and I have been a trainer for a large UK department store chain. Customer service is key to the success of any business and as you say, customers should be valued more - companies nee them!

Great job, voted up++++++++!!!!!!

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Arlene, congratulations on finding your home. It really does make a difference to both the client and the agent when the relationship starts out with a word-of-mouth reference from someone you trust. I am happy to be out of the day-to-day activity of running a company, but I do still talk to clients that I have served and that is quite enjoyable.

profile image

Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

Marlene, I purchased three houses, and I know the value of a real estate agent/broker when it comes to one of the most important decisions one makes in a lifetime. If you continue to receive referral fees into retirement, that says so much about you and how much your former clients appreciate you. I remember the time when everyone went after real estate licenses, and I met quite a few people who had to return to their former work because they were lousy with the marketing and follow-up. Word of mouth is the best way to go. That's how I found my last broker. I remember how hard he worked with me until we found the perfect house for me. It was a seller's market at the time, and everything was vanishing before we got there. After looking at about a dozen houses, we finally found THE ONE.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi Arlene, thank you for your positive and uplifting feedback. Customer service is customer service - giving the customer what they came to your store to receive. But, GOOD customer service goes beyond just selling a product or service. Good customer service gives the customer an experience surrounding the purchase, which adds more interaction and ties more emotion to the transaction.

I sold houses for decades and taught my agents that if they do more for the client than the client expects, then the client will become their best source of business. Since we all took that advice to heart, I never had to spend money advertising my company, yet because of client referrals, my company always had a steady flow of business. Even after retiring, I am still getting paid from closed transactions because past clients are calling me to buy or sell their homes. I now refer the business to a colleague/friend who understands the value of going over and above the transaction to satisfy the client. And, because I receive a small referral fee when the transaction closes, when I refer a client, I don't just give the client away. The other agent, the client, and I meet together where the agent is "presented" to the client. To me, it is a way of honoring the client - so it's not like they are just some piece of candy that I'm just giving away.

Oh, Arlene I am grateful to have your phone etiquette hub linked here because it is the perfect accompaniment to bring home the concept of good customer service.

profile image

Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

A+++, useful, interesting and just plain AWESOME. Ain't that the truth when it comes to giving excellent customer service??? Your article is so, so true and should be included as part of training. Years ago, we had a print framed, and it was stolen by one of their employees before it could even be framed. Although the manager replaced the print with a much better one (it was a numbered edition), we have not returned for business in 10 years. The corporate office in Texas tried to win us back by asking us what happened at their store, but that only brought up bad memories. Many businesses will try to keep you by either hearing you out and offering a sincere apology, refunding your money or sending gift cards. The customer IS the lifeline of any business. And when you are rude to your customer, they will easily leave for "The Other Guys." Proud to be linked your Hub, Marlene!

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Thank you so much for your positive feedback.

mjkearn - You said it right - Customers know what good customer service is, so it is truly amazing how businesses don't. They don't see how they need the customer more than the customer needs them.

And, I hear you regarding insurance and utility companies. I think the difference between those type of public service businesses and regular businesses is that we (the public) need them more than they need us. After all, we pretty much have to cave into their whims and put up with their attitudes and bad service because we want electricity at our house more than they want electricity at our house. Since, in most cases, they are the only source for electricity, water, gas, etc., where are we going to go? They don't have to be nice because we have no choice but to deal with them or be without service.

I agree with you about customer service being a common sense thing. All we need to do is put ourselves in the customer's place. It's easy to know what is the right thing to do.

Rosyel Sawali - Yes. It would be a better world if all businesses operated with good customer service in mind.

Rosyel Sawali profile image

Rosyel Sawali 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Very good hub! Excellent customer service tips! If all companies implement them, we are all happy customers ^_^

profile image

mjkearn 4 years ago

Hi MarleneB

Fabulous hub and excellent advice. It's amazing how customers know what good service is yet businesses don't or more likely don't care. Utility and insurance companies and the like I find are the worst when they know you need them more.

I wouldn't have lasted this long at my business without good customer service. To me the most of it was common sense more than learning any tricks or strategies.

Normal people can tell when you are the straight and true type of person.

Great hub, great job, voted up and the rest,


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 4 years ago from Northern California, USA Author

Hi Faith Reaper, thank you for your wonderful comment. You surely know how to make a person feel great. I'm starting to think good customer service is a lost art. Sometimes, it sets me back a bit when I go shopping and the clerk treats me like they absolutely hate their job and wish I just wouldn't be interested in buying somehting. They act like it just kills them to ring up a sale. I see them on their cell phones, texting, talking to other clerks - like work is a "social" gathering. The customer comes second in their minds. I wonder if that is the way of the world. I hope not.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

Hi Marlene, wow, we sure do need you everywhere now with this long forgotten concept of "customer service." You should market a DVD or something to teach "good customer service" for all companies to adopt as part of their training programs. Very insightful and necessary hub for today''s world. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article