Customers Are Not Always Right and They Are Not Kings

And Here's Why You Should Not Treat Them Like Kings

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Many business owners follow the gold standard of customer service: "The Customer is King." While others may adopt the philosophy, that "the customer is always right." If you are in business and have customers you know all to well customers are not always right and their behavior is not always that noble.  But take heart, because neither of those two "always suck it up" philosophies will bring you as much repeat business as the real #1 rule of great customer service, which is, the customer is not king.

The Customer is Not King

Customers who are immediately solicited upon entering an establishment do not feel like kings -- they feel like prey. People usually want to shop in peace without an entourage of worshipers following at their heels. It is fine to greet a customer with a smile and ask if they need any assistance, but leave them alone after the brief initial encounter.

Overzealous, uninvited attention, made worse by fake compliments, works on only a handful of customers. And, many of those who do respond to aggressive sales people (and yes, being too helpful is aggressive) simply do so to be polite - or to shut the sales person up.  Then, these unhappy customers reflect back on their experience and start telling others about your aggressive sales people.

Bestowing The Wrong Gifts

Customers are not kings who expect freebies at every turn, nor do they appreciate sales clerks begging for handouts (aka, your business.)

I once watched a sales girl badger a mom with young children to get her to try free samples of high fiber muffins. When the mom politely declined, the sales girl followed her and offered them to her children who were only too happy to grab them. When the mom took them away, the girls protested. "Oh, but they are healthy!" the sales girl hawked, "and really tasty." Now the clerk was using the kids to force her muffin sales.

The mom finally agreed to take a free sample muffin along with a few token coupons, no doubt just to loose her coupon stalker. I watched her turn the corner and shove the coupons and the muffins behind some canned goods with two very unhappy children in tow. So much for loyal subjects.

Customers who are pushed into buying products and services often experience buyer's remorse. And, customers who later regret the experience of giving you their business are not likely to return - unless it is to return the items they purchased.

So, What Are Customers?

First, they are people. Second, they are consumers. If you do not get this order right your business is losing out on the value of building lasting customer relationships; not one-purchase stands.

The Real Customer Service Rule #1

Each day, I go out of my way to stop by the Del Taco restaurant on the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Benson Avenue in Upland, CA. There are closer places to get my morning caffeine fix, but I drive the few extra miles for one reason: they are friendly and I get the sense I am welcomed - not just my money.

One of the mangers always looks up from what she is doing to ask me, "How are you doing today my friend?" Sometimes, she asks where my kids are, or if I had to work all night again.

She never tries to sell me extra food. She knows my name, my kids, my dogs, and that I do not like green sauce. She always says "See you tomorrow."

That is customer service at its best.

Having once worked in fast food myself, I know that managers are trained in customer service. So I asked Lily Martinez, the friendly Del Taco shift manager, for the best customer service advice she could offer to my readers. Without hesitation, she said with a smile, "Be friendly." She added, "Just be nice to people, treat them like a friend."

Lily does not treat customers like kings who lord their business over her. She treats them like friends.

Kings go on to conquer and pillage other businesses, but friends will return to visit friends often.