Alexandra Shiryaeva
Chief Customer Officer at Usedesk
This is a traditional and quite free [interpretation] of our colleagues NiceReply regarding the question of unconditional love for the customers. Do we always have to tolerate even the most intolerable of them?

"The customer is always right" has become a motto for many companies around the world. Now is the time to stay away from this philosophy. Here is why.

Enforcing "the customer is always right" on your team members puts them against the customer immediately.

This phrase appeared in an era when relationships between the customer and the seller were transactional, where the sellers had almost unlimited freedom of action and felt their dominant position. Nowadays, business functions in a very different way, but for some reason, the approach remains.

At what point does this attitude towards the customers can hurt your business? In everyday life, we don't give people that much freedom. Instead, we often assume that they are wrong. Overall, we are all human beings, and we all make mistakes.

Of course, treating customers with respect and showing them they're valued unquestionable and these things should be enforced in your company. However, let's admit it: there are "bad" customers out there, and their loss is less painful for the business than handling them.

We have formulated some simple tips to help you see the problem from another angle and, perhaps, review some of the standard old-fashioned approaches.
Do your best for the best customers
Before you start opposing: no, this does not mean that you have to put the red carpet in front of few best customers and forget about the rest. This is about that - "not all customers are worth the best efforts of your team" (Peter Fader, "Customer Centricity").

No matter what your company's business is, any support team's purpose is to take care of a customer—words, actions, help, and problem-solving aim to show the customer how important he is. Unreasonable waste of resources puts you in danger of business losses.

It's easy to think that the more customers you have — the better, but these customers' quality is important. Some customers are constantly and systematically (do not confuse them with those who just are having a bad day) rude to your team, disrupt and threaten the operators, or write bad reviews on social media. They are toxic, and they harm the business as a whole. Show love and care to prospective, new loyal, and positive customers; pay more attention to those who have been with you for a long time and are devoted to your product. This is not a weakness or a loss, but you just have to admit: it is almost impossible to satisfy harmful and disruptive customers. Their toxicity works like a Gorgon — you solve one problem, and another grows right away even more ridiculous one.

Do not be afraid to let your worst customers go

Southwest airlines company has a great story relevant to our discussion. In short: one of the frequent passengers of their planes constantly sent them complaints about how much she did not like everything from seating to food. Finally, the company's CEO, Herb Kelleher, responded to one of the letters very short and clear: "If you hate everything we do, goodbye." He also did not forget to let his employees know what a great job they did and the tremendous volume of work they handled dealing with such difficult customers.

In the short term, being ready to refuse from the customer may result in some losses; however, in the long term, it will be paid off through investments in non-toxic customers that motivate and inspire you, facilitating the company's development and enhancement.
Value your employees
Happy employees = happy customers. And vice-versa. According to the 2016 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, companies with first-class customer service are comfortable and, more importantly, involved in working with customers' employees. Coincidence? We do not think so.

Simultaneously, the promotion of the idea "the client is always right" puts your employees in a vulnerable and defensive position. They face an unstable customer that is dangerous for the team spirit. Every time the management gives higher priority to such a customer than to an employee allowing humiliation and rude behavior to remain unnoticed, the employee loses trust in the company and, as a result, loses interest and motivation in his work.

The example with Kelleher demonstrates how valuable and important this step can be for the team.
How to deal with toxic customers
Too harmful, aggressive, and nearly insane customers are not frequent (if you see them often, maybe the problem is not in the customers). Nevertheless, it is good to have a couple of tricks up your sleeve to help deal with them effectively.

In addition to your attempts to calm down a customer, remind him that the support team is a team of experts who solve any issue of any complexity. Often, customers are frustrated and irritated just because they cannot manage to work with your product; they do not know how to use it effectively or make a mistake. In this case, all you need to do is to support them and let them know that they are heard, and you will help them with the issue and work on minimizing the weaknesses in the future.

Of course, not everything is just that simple. To handle these cases, the team must demonstrate empathy, patience, and sympathy to the customers. It is also essential to make sure that your support team has all the tools to resolve the issue: discounts, loyalty systems, special offers, and many other things that a customer will appreciate.
Remember what's really important
To point it out again: we do not encourage you to refuse the customers or to terminate relations with them right after the first case of misunderstanding. Contrarily, help and support are things that you have to keep ready. The customers can get confused; they can be tired or feel bad — all of these do not make them horrible and unbearable people. We all know what it is like. Always try to resolve the problem using all the tools you have.

And do not be afraid to close (or hint at it) your doors to the customers that always humiliate your team or unhappy with any solution you offer. Remember the company's core values and the importance of keeping the atmosphere of supportiveness and comfort not only outside but also inside — within the team.

Do you have any questions or a topic that you would like to learn more about? Do not hesitate to contact us at team@usedesk.com — a unique email address where your emails are always welcomed.
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