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Is the Customer Always Right?
Posted 6/18/2019
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“The customer is always right” is a phrase that was pioneered by retail greats in the early 1900s. In the U.S. it was associated with Marshall Field of the famous Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago, IL. In the U.K. it was championed by Harry Gordon Selfridge who founded London’s Selfridges store.

These entrepreneurs learned early on that the success of their businesses depended on the happiness of their customers. This philosophy of putting the customer first was new and influential but in today’s world, it is a philosophy that is even more important to embrace. Social media has given customers a powerful platform to voice concerns over the products and services they use.

Anyone who works in customer service can tell you that when you have an unhappy customer, emotions can escalate quickly. It is important to remember that their dissatisfaction is not a personal attack on you. Best practice is to remain calm, cool and collected.

Helpful Techniques for Dealing with an Unhappy Customer

Stop. Look. Listen.

Listen patiently to hear your customer out. Maintain eye contact, identify with their situation, show empathy and interest by nodding and staying engaged in what they are saying. You may ask questions calmly and quietly when appropriate. Be conscious of your tone, body language and demeanor. Never roll your eyes or cross your arms. When they are finished speaking, repeat what they said to show that you fully listened and understood. Finally, ask any last questions if you need further clarification.

Use the Customers Name

If you have an established relationship with the client, you should use their first name. It is more sincere when you address a client personally. They will feel like you genuinely care about them and their concerns.

Offer Options

When it is possible, give the customer a choice between two different scenarios. Think of the game show “Let’s Make a Deal”. Would you like what is behind curtain #1 or curtain #2? This may not be feasible for every situation, but with a little ingenuity it can be worth the effort to offer two solutions.


Express an apology for the problem your customer is having or perceives to be having. Saying something as simple as “I’m so sorry you are not happy with the online billing – let me help you with that today!” can make a substantial difference.

Keep Your Promise

If you told your customer you would call them back by Friday, keep your promise. Even if you do not have a solution, reach out anyway. Let the customer know you are still working on a resolution and you will get back to them the following week.

Recap Next Steps

At the end of any conversation with a customer, always recap what the next steps will be. Do you need to do anything on your end? Does the customer need to complete a task? If so, when should it be completed? Be sure to always document your interactions and consider creating a list that outlines who is accountable for what.

Provided by Bryan Mosser, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Cornerstone Insurance Producers.  Learn More

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