Frequently, businesses tout the idea that ‘The Customer is always right,’ but do those same businesses follow up on this belief? Often, it’s more of a saying and less of an applicable truth. However, customers should have certain privileges and expectations for the businesses with which they shop. While they may not always be right, customers are entitled to certain privileges when they choose to do business with a company.
Don’t Ignore These Rights
Whether you are on the business or customer side of the counter, it’s important to understand what these rights are. While they may not be written in stone, they should certainly be followed and observed for optimal success in the crowded business landscape.
- Truth. Above all else, customers have a right to the truth. Whether you own the business, manage the business, or work part-time, everything you do should be grounded in telling the truth. That’s not to say you must tell customers absolutely everything about the internal workings of your company, but they should know the truth about things that involve them and their purchase directly. If there is a product defect, the customer deserves to know about it. If an item is on sale because it’s been returned or broken, it should be clearly advertised. The list could go on and on, but the point is simple: tell customers the truth.
- Consistency. While many companies pride themselves on consistency, others seem to think it’s optional. However, customers deserve the right to consistency. When someone buys your product one day and comes back a month later for the same item, it should be very similar or identical. Consistency should also be present in customer service and all other interactions.
- Safety. In addition to always being truthful and consistent, businesses should afford customers the right to safety. That includes safety while on the business’s physical premises, when handing over sensitive financial information, and when using or consuming products or services. While all customer rights are hard to force upon a company, this one is backed by the law. In the words of Simmons & Fletcher law firm, “Any place where the general public is invited to come and shop or conduct business has a duty to conduct reasonable inspections to keep the premises safe for their patrons.”
- Service. While the word ‘service’ may mean different things to different companies, it is still an unquestioned right of the customer. When a customer decides to do business with a company, they are paying for multiple things. While they walk away with a product, service, or benefit, they are also paying for customer service. Simply put, you cannot offer a product without service and assume you are treating the customer well.
- Timeliness. Timeliness goes hand in hand with service. If you are going to show you care about a customer, it’s important to be prompt and on time. This is especially true in service industries like food and retail. Being consistently late with products or services is disrespectful and rude to customers. When they pay for service, they are paying for it to be done in the time promised. Time likely played a major factor in their purchase decision, and lack of timely service will drive customers away.
- Solutions. This one looks different for every business, but for the most part – customers deserve solutions. In the clinical sense, this refers to solving some problem or issue. It may be something serious like a medical need or hunger, or it could refer to providing a solution to someone’s desire to relax. Either way, when you offer a product or service, it should solve the customer’s problem or satisfy their desire.
- Respect. While the world doesn’t always do a great job of respecting people, it is still one of the fundamental rights of mankind. People deserve to be respected and treated well. This carries over into the business world and should be obeyed and observed in every area of a company. In addition to employer-employee respect, businesses owe respect to customers. Essentially, this entire list is about respect. As a business, you can respect your customers by respecting their rights to truth, consistency, safety, service, solutions, and timeliness.
The customer relationship is all about helping people and developing a mutually satisfactory business relationship. In the words of attorney Sharon Simmons-Cantrell, “Being able to help and guide people as they resolve their problems gives me the greatest satisfaction. That’s what we want.” And that’s what every business should want. It should be the goal of every business everywhere to help people resolve their customer’s problems, needs, or desires by respecting their rights.
Are you paying attention to your customer’s right to truth, consistency, safety, service, timeliness, solutions, and respect? When you begin to satisfy these rights, business becomes easier, simpler, and fruitful.