Is the customer always right?

Is the customer always right?

A lot of times the answer to this question is yes, if you truly want to cater to what your customers need from you. But sometimes the answer is flat out no if you are sure they truly don’t value what you have to offer.

Yesterday I had a customer request to speak to me at 9:30pm to answer some questions they had about placing an order for a new professional clarinet. This was well outside of my work day but was the only time they were free to speak to me. Of course I did call them, as they requested, and had a wonderful conversation and finalized an order simultaneously.

There have been other occasions with customers where I have picked them up at the airport, met them at 6am to complete a sale, provided them with detailed measurements of interior dimensions of an instrument to satisfy their “need to know”, swapped out something for something else to make them happy, offered to charge a portion of their bill at a later date to help their cash flow, and the list goes on and on and on of the special requests I routinely say “sure, I would be happy to.”

Giving the customer what they need and how they need it to complete a sale and build a relationship with you- even if it means stepping way outside your comfortable “this is how we do things” box  – is a very important skill to have in building your business and customer base.

But can a customers request simply go too far? Where is the line that you need to clearly draw?

Two weeks ago a professional player called and ask me to begin looking for a new instrument for them. They loaded me up with specific details about what they were looking for, asked for a discount and told me to call them when I had found the perfect instrument for them and had it in my hands. I spent a considerably amount of time then explaining to this professional that while all my instruments were sent on approval to be tried, and in essence could all be returned, I required that an order be placed for me to begin my search. However, this individual was not willing to finalize anything until I had the instrument.  Despite the fact that this individual told me that every instrument they had students purchase from me seemed better than their own, and that each was also really well set up an and ready to play, they refused to trust me enough to place the order.

And so I had no choice but to decline their request. This clearly was not my customer. My customers value what I do. And while they may be demanding, or have unusual requests, they fundamentally respect and value the service I provide and I know this because they place an order with me to prove they do.  They also return my phone calls and emails, pay me on time, say thank you, refer others to me and gush over the level of great service I provide to them. These are what real customers do and real customer are always worth jumping through hoops for.

How about you? Where is it that you draw the line? How far will you bend for your real customers who value you?



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