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In a popular article about customer service that we posted on Facebook, a manager of a cafe railed against a bad review from a customer. The customer complained that they were charged 2 pounds or nearly 3 dollars for a cup of tea.
The cafe explained all of the costs that go into making a cup of tea for that customer. Many are applauding the cafe’s response.
A lot people are happy because of the nature of online reviews where customers seem to have an upper hand.
Despite what many of us were told long ago, it seems like the last 15 years has seen a decline in businesses that believe it is no longer the case that the customer is always right. The fact is many businesses began to buck this notion back in the early 20th century.
It all started back when retailers like John Wannamaker and Marshall Field whose stores bared their names decided to go against what every else was doing. They were being innovative.
At the time, Caveat Emptor was the rule of the day…Let the Buyer Beware. This meant you were on your own as a consumer. Trust was a big missing factor in the consumer/seller relationship. So these guys found a way to bring people into their stores by bucking the trend. They became hugely successful in their markets.
Others who didn’t have the resources of these giants saw only a small part of what they did and tried to emulate a certain aspect of their businesses. But, it was the things that could not be readily seen that made them successful.
These included honesty and integrity. Making sure their products were exactly what they said they were. And basically guaranteeing their quality. It was a part of their Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Most businesses weren’t doing what they were doing. When you have something unique it is much easier to market and advertise at a cheaper price than your competitors.
When their competitors tried to copy them without the same honesty and integrity, they failed and complained that they couldn’t survive because the customer tried to cheat them. In an article from 1914 titled “Successful Salesmanship: Is the Customer Always Right?”, in a publication called Mill Supplies, Frank Farrington wrote:
“if we adopt the policy of admitting whatever claims the customer makes to be proper, and if we always settle them at face value, we shall be subjected to inevitable losses”
It was probably the only thing they were doing to try to keep up with those that became the “Big Guys”. They couldn’t do it with just one part of the leaders’ success formula.
So, you have to innovate. Come up with your own success formula that works for your philosophies. Usually, honesty and integrity are a good place to start. That’s how you develop trust. Those few that will try to cheat you are part of the cost of doing business.