As new business owners start to attract more than enough clients, their hunger to please quite often diminishes. At first many are naïve and trusting, but for every client who takes a mile from the inch they are given, business owners gradually value their own time more and more – sometimes to the point where they value their time more than their client’s patronage. It’s all too easy to become complacent and grow increasingly cynical of clients or customers. It’s happened to me, I’ve seen it happen to other businesses, and I’ve been a customer on the receiving end of the cynicism many times. I personally have to remind myself of the importance of giving good service and re-evaluate my own motives behind tightening the metaphorical belt on the time I invest with clients.
As a high school teenager working at Red Rooster, I was taught ‘the customer is always right’. I resented it and never really understood it. As a teenager who ‘knew it all’, I was the one who was right, the customers were the ones being selfish and unreasonable. Since running my own business, and having realised the value of a satisfied customer, I’ve reframed my thinking about that statement. The best thing you can do to reinvigorate your business and passion for serving people is to work with this Flawsome attitude: the customer is always right, EVEN when they may be wrong. Even if you’re right, love and serve them anyway. They are your livelihood and you owe them the utmost gratitude for every cent they choose to spend with you.
A fantastic quote, allegedly by Mahatma Gandhi, which I think all business owners and customer service staff should take to heart, reads: “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.” (You’ll find Mathatma Gandhi’s quote here. However, the authenticity of the quote is debated. You can read more about the origin of the quote here.)
Embrace the things that frustrate you most about your customers. In the same way we can flip our perceptions about our own flaws, we can also flip our perceptions about our customer’s flaws. List what you dislike about your customers and if you can’t put processes in place to help them adjust their behaviour to better suit you (entirely possible, but highly unlikely), adjust your perception on how their flaws actually help you and others. If you make your customers feel valued and overlook their flaws, they will overlook yours.
A customer who has had great service in the past, has a personal connection with you and has been treated respectfully, will always forgive you for your mistakes much quicker than those you’ve treated as a burden. You’ll get more leeway in your deadlines, less tension over price and more willingness to accept your advice, reducing your stress and theirs; making business so much more enjoyable for everyone.