After flying over forty times per year for the last five years, I suppose it was bound to happen. On a recent day of travel, almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Despite paying an extra $200 to get moved to an earlier flight, the plane ended up sitting on the runway at Newark airport for over 90 minutes, meaning my takeoff time ended up being the same as my original flight.
Then things got worse. The aircraft had a mechanical issue, and we had to return to the gate. For the first time in over two hundred flights, I had to deplane and board another aircraft (don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the emphasis on safety).
Finally, after another hour delay on the runway, we were airborne and home just a few hours late. I’ve experienced longer delays, but never so many reasons for being delayed.
After landing at Toronto’s convenient City Center airport, I hailed a cab for the short ride home. My driver for the day was a nice man from Ghana, and after he asked how my flight was, we began talking about our experiences with airlines. He named one airline that he will never fly again because of rude customer service (although it was my favorite North American airline, I understood his frustration). This company has permanently lost all business from this cab driver’s family because of one ticket agent’s rude attitude toward their customers.
This led to our conversation turning to the cab industry in Toronto, and how it had changed in over his twenty-year career. He explained how cab drivers had become less professional in recent years and how this is contributing to a downturn in their industry.
“No one wants to take a cab today,” he explained. “And some cab drivers won’t even take a fare because the client only needs to go a short distance. When they turn people away like that, it makes the riders upset and they don’t want to use taxis no more.”
“But the customer is always right. “
Do you know why the customer is always right?
Because the customer is an honest, hardworking person who is just looking to get good value for their money.
Customers aren’t out to cheat you.
But too many business owners create an adversarial relationship with customers, often before any transaction even takes place.
For example, one of the most common concerns from beginners starting an online information marketing business is they worry about protecting their downloadable products from theft.
“How can I stop people from buying my stuff and sharing it with their friends?”, they ask.
Don’t focus on customer theft when you haven’t made any sales. That’s the wrong mentality. Instead, you must spend all of your energy identifying ways to get prospects to invest in your products. Stop thinking that people are going to steal your products when you haven’t even sold anything yet. Theft isn’t your problem. Making the first sale should be your only concern.
Besides, after selling products online for over a decade, I’ve discovered there are only a few bad apples that will try to cheat you. Probably less than one in five thousand. It’s not worth your time or energy to spend a moment thinking about protecting your info.
Stop treating your customer like an enemy.
They are your best friends. They should be treated like family. You should go above and beyond the call of duty to take care of them. Businesses that do this will attract far more customers than they could ever possibly lose to a few bad apples.
Here’s a perfect example of how a business can grow when the owners trust their clients and do everything they can to make a great offer without fear of loss. A friend of mine recently started using a “double your money back” guarantee in his business. But it wasn’t easy to get his business partners to agree on the offer. One senior executive listed umpteen different reasons for not using this outrageous (and outrageously effective) guarantee, many of which involved the assumption of customers taking advantage of the offer.
“What if the refunds go viral?”, the partner asked. “We could have a real problem on our hands.”
Fortunately, he was open-minded and agreed to the promotion after being assured that nothing bad would happen. And nothing bad did happen. In fact, the promotion worked like gangbusters and continues to work extremely well because at the end of the day, customers are honest, and always right.
And listen, even if your customer or prospect is wrong, what benefit is it to you to make them feel wrong? How is it going to help your business by proving that you’re right?
For our cab driver, he knew that at the end of the day, his business was all about the customer. You show up on time, you drive courteously, professionally, and you have a nice conversation with the rider if they want, or you remain silent if the customer wants to be left alone. It doesn’t matter if the fare is long or short, you give them the best experience either way. You never know when that client will be back, or if they will be giving you a generous tip. Whatever the customer decides is always right.
In your online business, the rules are generally the same, even though the experience is much different.
If a customer has a technical problem accessing your product, you immediately fix the situation and try to give them an extra bonus for their trouble. You don’t point out how easy it is for them to download the product. There’s no benefit in showing the customer they are wrong. If they want a refund, give it to them immediately and tell them to keep the product, especially if it is digitally delivered. Don’t make a big deal about asking them to delete your content from their computer.
Even if they share your product with others (just like most people have probably at one time ‘illegally’ shared a movie or record album recording with a friend), you focus on making the product so good that the recipient of the free product has a reason to look you up for more information. Within each product you sell you should also include links back to your site and to the other products you sell so that customers (and the people who have ‘borrowed’ your product) can find and purchase all of your other material.
Always look on the bright side of every customer interaction. It should never be an adversarial relationship.
Customers are looking to give you money, to put their trust in you, and to have you give them the solution to their problem.
To them, you are a problem solver. They aren’t out there looking for companies to steal from. Focus on what counts, and that is to simply make their life better.
Make sure the customer knows you care, and do your best to over-deliver on the promises you make. Treat them like family, create goodwill in all your interactions with them, and they will spend their energy telling others to invest in your products. Customers are good. Customers are right. Never forget that.
[Ed. Note. Craig Ballantyne is the author of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future with a web-based business that you can operate from anywhere in the world - including a coffee shop, your kitchen table, or anywhere around the world where there is Internet access. Discover how you can achieve the American Dream and your financial independence here. You've never seen anything like this before.]