man cooking at hamburger stand
27/01/2012

Is the Customer Always Right?

Customer Service. Whether you’re selling zip screws and tek screws, as I do, or if you own your own restaurant, your success hinges solely on your customers. I was reminded of that yesterday and of the old saying, “The Customer Is Always Right”. This time, I was on the other side of the counter at a local restaurant that our family has been patronizing for over fifteen years. We have always loved the food and our experience with the owner during the first two years was extremely positive. I would have recommended his establishment to anyone.

But it only takes one bad experience to ruin a positive customer relationship that took years to build. Anyone in business will tell you that cultivating a loyal following is difficult and it’s much easier to keep customers than to replace them. No matter how great your quality of product or service, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. It’s the way that you handle your customer service that will determine whether they stay with you or move on to another supplier.

One bad experience. Actually, it was the fourth, but I liked the establishment enough to give them a pass on the first three mistakes on take out orders. The fourth time I decided that certainly the owner could not be aware of the problems his take out division was having so I decided that a call to the owner was in order. I knew he was there as I was standing next to him as I was picking up my order.

As I called the establishment and was told that the owner did not take customer service calls, I was reminded of another important rule of owning a business. Never, never, never take your hand off the pulse of your own company. After finally, almost forcibly, getting in touch with the owner and having him confirm, rather rudely, that he did not take customer service calls and stated that he would not listen to any complaint about his take out service, I was reminded that your employees will mimic the ownership. If the owner doesn’t respect or value his customers, neither will his employees.

So, this mishandled customer service not only cost this establishment a 15-year-old relationship and future business, he also lost the future business of my family as well.

On a positive/good note, this experience/encounter has reminded me of how important customers are to have a healthy, thriving business and that they are not to be taken for granted.

So be it burgers or zip screws and tek screws, the customer is ALWAYS right!