But He's Always the Customer

By Bill Hodges

©2000 Hodges Seminars International

According to most recent statistics, prices have begun a downward spiral. In some cases, major retailers have reduced their prices and cars are being offered with no interest financing. The war to gain new customers is on, and is being waged in earnest. Some companies have recognized it is easier to keep a customer than it is to get new ones. So for some time they have had policies in place that recognize the customer might not always be right but he is always the customer.

While standing at the return desk of a major retailer waiting to be served, I had the opportunity to watch the customer service representative handle a number of transactions. She remained cheerful, courteous and made refunds with little or no question as to why the products were being returned. In two instances, in particular, I was amazed that the store would give money back on the items presented. In the first instance, it was a pair of shoes which had obviously been worn for some time. The customer, claimed, however, that they had been worn for only two weeks and had deteriorated prematurely. Even from where I stood, I could see the fallacy in what the customer was saying. The clerk just smiled, said, "Yes Ma’am," and made the refund. In the second instance, it was a hunting rifle being returned two days after the close of hunting season. The customer said that the rifle didn’t shoot straight. It was a little hard for me to determine whether or not he was telling the truth, but it was not hard to see why he didn’t need the rifle until next hunting season. I have a feeling that the rifle was not the only thing that wasn’t a straight shooter. Again, the clerk smiled and refunded the money. In both instances, she apologized to the customer for any inconvenience the product had caused and thanked them for their business.

To my mind, both of these customers abused a very good retailer. I asked the customer service representative why she allowed them to get away with such fabrications. She said it was her company’s policy to ensure that every customer be treated with courtesy, and that complete satisfaction was their goal. If this meant certain customers would abuse the system, so be it. I guess she was right, because I now have complete confidence that if I buy something from this retailer, it will do what they say it will do. If it doesn’t, or I perceive that it doesn’t, I also know that I, being the customer, will always be right. This retailer could not have run any kind of ad that would convince me any more of the company’s integrity than the few dollars they spent in taking the products back from those less-than-honorable patrons.

Maybe more businesses should follow their lead and realize that the customer is their lifeblood. Though he may not always be right, he is always the customer.

Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.

Web site: http://www.BillHodges.com

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