These three commonly quoted phrases have been preached to employees in the customer service industry for years and often still are. But as new data and research shows, the most profitable businesses have debunked these old-school mantras and adopted better philosophies that have proven to be more successful.
The customer is always right.
Originally coined in the early 1900’s, this ideology gives the highest priority to the customer in order to gain their satisfaction whether they’re right or wrong. Unfortunately, trying to satisfy every customer is nearly impossible and is costly in more ways than one. Appeasing unhappy customers with free or discounted products doesn’t always translate to them becoming loyal. In fact, they are less likely to return and money is lost on those transactions.
Along with profit loss, this phrase is damaging to employee productivity. It allows unreasonable customers to take advantage of businesses by making ridiculous demands while expecting employees to maintain a high level of service. This creates a negative and stressful experience for both employees and other customers and causes resentment toward management. Shifting this priority to employees instead makes them feel supported and protected rather than devalued. It also reinforces the fact that the company and its staff are knowledgeable and qualified on the products and services and that they are the final say-so despite what the customer may think.
The customer comes first.
For many years, standard business philosophy rested on the notion that the customer should come first. Contrary to that belief, research shows that employees should come first instead. While customer satisfaction is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of employee needs. In order to keep customers happy the employees need to feel valued and supported. Always putting the customer first sends a disheartening message to employees that even the rudest customers take priority over them.
A study conducted by Harvard professors found that employee morale and productivity are directly connected and have a powerful influence on “customer loyalty and brand value.” If employees aren’t happy, it results in low productivity levels and then it becomes harder to offer customers a positive experience. When the opposite is true and the employees are put first, engagement and productivity increase which means better value service for customers.
Satisfied customers are loyal customers.
The customer service sector is a multi-billion dollar industry that is constantly growing and changing as business and technology progress. Apps, call center software, and live chat support are just a few of the newest, innovative trends in customer service. These additions to the industry offer a new service experience but does it result in more satisfied, loyal customers?
The answer to that is more complex than originally thought. Businesses often equate satisfied customers as being loyal customers but that theory doesn’t always ring true. A positive experience with a company doesn’t tie a customer to that business especially when there are an abundance of options they can explore. Satisfaction is important as is loyalty but in reality they are both separate concepts.
A business approach focused on satisfaction alone will only measure what aspects of the company customers are happy or unhappy with. The price could be perfect, the service could be great and receive high marks across the board but that isn’t always enough to keep them coming back. Customer loyalty determines how likely someone is to recommend a product or service and if they’ll stick with a company even if they’ve had some not-so-great experiences with them. Prioritizing customer loyalty over satisfaction is a stronger, more forward-thinking practice that focuses on the future intent of the customers instead of how satisfied they are at one moment.