Is The Customer Always Right?

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The motto of “old-school” customer service was “The customer is always right”. It is usually credited to Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909, to compel employees to give customers good service and to convince customers that they would get it at his store.

Taken to an extreme in our day, many customers believe this motto to be a constitutional right. It has been badly abused and is being abandoned by many companies who realize that trying to meet the needs of everyone is a costly and ineffective way to meet the needs of those who truly want, need and value their services.

For example, Author Alexander Kjerulf tells the story of a frequent Southwest flier who complained after every flight. After repeated attempts to appease her, her final grievance (about the sportiness of the flight attendants’ uniforms) was forwarded in desperation to the CEO, Herb Kelleher, who immediately wrote back, ‘Dear Mrs. Crabapple, We will miss you. Love, Herb.’”

4 Ways “New-school” customer service is different:

1. It’s targeted to the customers you want to keep

In terms of ROI, customers who are “not right”—for your camp—are simply too expensive, time-consuming and exhausting to try to keep.

At the same time, camps’ target market is MOM. She means business and you HAVE to keep up with her! There’s a fine line here that must be understood.

2. It’s relational

Connect with customers in all the venues where they’re speaking, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Share your various opinions and passions about kids and camps on your blog and social media. They want to know you care about their kids and their values, not just about your bottom line. They want to know you.

3. It’s about asking the right questions

Prioritize questions like “What do they want and need at search time/registration/drop-off/mid-camp/pick-up/after camp?” as much as “How can I increase my enrollment?”Creative questions lead to creative solutions to your customer’s desires, expectations, and problems, which will ultimately affect enrollment numbers.

4. It’s about offering value beyond your actual camp or clinic

  • Doing business with companies that give back to the community is important to today’s moms.
  • Offering statistics or thought-provoking, informative, interesting or humorous material on your blog or Facebook page about camp experiences, children’s needs, or current trends will keep them connected throughout the year.
  • Texting or tweeting reminders will help them keep up with important camp tasks and deadlines.
  • Making camp or class registration, payment and release-form completion as easy as possible eliminates stress for moms

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, may have defined a better motto for our time: “Start with the customer and work backwards.

What is your customer service motto?