The age old adage of “the customer is always right” is thrown around a lot in conversations about how to provide great service, but what does it mean in reality?  What are concrete ways to show a customer that she’s always right?

internetTiffany recently switched telecommunications providers.  She made the move from a big, national company, to a small, private one.  She was nervous about making the switch, but had heard vague praises of their customer service so decided to move ahead with it.  “Everything went smoothly with the transition until I tried to pay my first bill.  I couldn’t find a field on their website to pay my account with two different credit cards.  I use the phone service for work, so I need to bill that to my corporate card.”

Tiffany quickly googled the company’s customer service number and immediately found it in the search results page.  “I feel like everything got off on the right foot right then, before I even talked to them, because I didn’t have to click through and dig around their website to figure out how to talk to an actual person.”  She was even more pleased when a live person answered the main number instead of an automated phone tree.

After being patched through to billing, she explained her problem and was informed that their billing system wasn’t set up to handle split payments.  “I told the man I was speaking with that I had discussed the need to pay separately for services with the salesperson that set up my account and was not told at that time that they couldn’t process payment that way.  The representative then asked to put me on hold, so I was expecting the worst.”  Instead of coming back on the line to tell Tiffany that she was out of luck, he came back to tell her there was a solution.  “He said he was putting a note in my account that this was my expectation and that it should be done manually each month when I call in to authorize payment.  I couldn’t believe it!  When does a company go against its normal billing policy because a customer said they needed it?”

But Tiffany’s outstanding experience with this company didn’t end here.  After months of calling in, always talking to the live operator and reaching billing nearly instantly, Tiffany had an unexpected job transfer that would leave her in corporate housing for an unknown time.  Thus, she called in to cancel her account until she found a permanent home.  However, she was surprised to hear that her account carried an early termination fee.  She again explained her situation.  “I figured I would have to pay the fee, but I offered that perhaps they could just suspend my account for the months I didn’t need it.  I was put on hold again and was honestly shocked when the lady came back to tell me that they were waiving the termination fee and hoped I would come back to them once I needed service again.  Honestly, I wouldn’t even consider another company after this!  I’ve never had a company be so accommodating and helpful.”

This company has stepped into a field of giants but is gaining market share by a steadfast commitment to their customers.  In Tiffany’s case, it’s not only what convinced her to switch providers initially, it’s also what won her over and earned her loyalty in the long term.

It’s not enough to merely say we think the customer is always right, we must put that belief into action.  Is there a way to make it happen?  Can we tailor our service offering to meet their needs?  Their expectations?  If so, it needs to be done.  When we decide that we will not accept having the ability but not the desire to make it happen for our customers, our customers will take note and their loyalty will grow.