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When The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Oct 11, 2016 | General

when-the-customer-isnt-always-right “Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They’ll just walk away.”

Marilyn Suttle

We all have different businesses and goals. Client service is what unites us all, along with the old adage of the customer always being right.

But what about when the client is in the wrong?

I know you’re not gasping, because customers often disprove the cliché. They can confuse dates, amounts, names and faces — they’re human, after all. What’s more important is how you handle this delicate situation and turn it into a positive for your business.

Ask Questions

Even after you’ve delivered on-time or under budget, clients may still find something wrong with your product or service. For whatever reason, what they purchased is not contributing to the projected return on investment, or the client just wants an instant refund.

Ask a question: What could we do to ensure this never happens again?

Let the client speak. If you’re going to interject, do so just to keep them talking. Something like, “That last point is the first I’m hearing of it. Please elaborate,” is a fine way to go. In a lot of cases, clients just want to vent and you’re going to have to be the verbal punching bag. Words are jabs and eventually the client will punch out.

As long as the client is retained, you won the match. Additionally, you might get some useful feedback that could help you improve your product or service.

Don’t Give Away The Store

Be selective about complimentary trials. Free estimates can attract new business but perhaps you shouldn’t extend the offer to absolutely everyone.

One of my clients owns a kitchen design business. She’ll come to a residence and freely draw and review a plan with a potential customer, but she always keeps the plan. This way the client cannot take her idea to someone else.  

Also, she won’t offer free estimates to certain professionals, like realtors, who have historically proven they have no intention of using the services. When she got flack from realtors, she responded, “Bringing me in shows me you’re as serious as I am.” This way, it’s time well-spent, and there’s a clearer understanding off the bat. For the most part, it’s worked for her.

If your company has made good on its commitments, but clients are claiming dissatisfaction, keep your cool, let them vent, and make sure you retain the revenue. There are always ways to offer reduced rates on future work.  

Contact Brinen & Associates to discuss proper etiquette when conducting your business, even after you’ve delivered.  


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I formerly worked as a satellite employee from my home state of New Jersey. I ended my employment with my former employer in 2016. In 2018, I was sued by my former employer for $1.1 million in Illinois State Court. I was referred to Brinen & Associates, LLC by a friend who is a client of the firm. Brinen & Associates, LLC came highly recommended. I contacted Joshua Brinen and then had a consultation at his office with his colleague Mark White. Together, Messrs. Brinen and White explained my options...

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