Sunday, March 11, 2012

Is the Customer Always Right?

When department store tycoon Gordon Selfridge opened his namesake store in London, over 100 years ago, his flair for marketing was apparent from the moment the front doors opened. Today shoppers are typically greeted with a fine mist of fragrance as they step into department stores around the world and yet, Mr. Selfridge's best-known legacy may be the expression; "The customer is always right."
Strong words.
The problem is unrealistic expectations when it comes to customer service. One industry particularly prone to excess, or some would say abuse, is the hospitality industry where a typical cliché involves a disgruntled wine snob demanding replacement of a half-empty bottle. A constant refrain, some would say mantra, during my courses on dining is: show respect to people in hospitality. The kitchen was under renovation and every morning the contractors arrived with hot coffee for all. Wow!
Unquestionably, the customer has a right to certain expectations. Take for example, the experiences of a forty-something woman we'll call Cindy. New to the slightest touch of grey, she was encouraged to stretch her hair-care budget and book an appointment for colour and a cut at the salon favoured by younger colleagues. Cindy paid her bill and silently cursed herself for overspending - poor coverage of her grey. Cindy was furious.
Apparently, the referring colleagues convinced her to call the salon. The owner immediately offered to provide a refund - or correct both the colour and cut. This time, the colour coverage was fine but the result was abysmally dark. Cindy left in tears and by the time she got home, could barely contain herself. This time, miraculously, all went well. Perfect. Cindy called the salon and was declined an appointment. Not my business but personally, if I had an unhappy client, right or wrong, I'd do everything in my power to regain the highest level of customer confidence. Imagine the benefits of a satisfied Cindy happily broadcasting her enthusiasm. Chacun à son gout.
How Is Your Personal and Professional Image? Diane Craig
Image and Etiquette Expert
Diane Craig, President of Corporate Class Inc., is a leading image and etiquette consultant. For over 20 years she has provided corporate consultations, helping hundreds of men and women realize their professional and personal goals. She is a sought after speaker at national business meetings, regularly gives comprehensive workshops to corporate groups, and offers private consultations on business etiquette, dress and dining.

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