The Customer Isn't Always Right, But For Goodness Sakes Show Some Business Finesse!

By Avelyn Austin | Sep 29, 2010
More Articles by Avelyn

The customer is always right!

We all heard this growing up, if you went to business school you likely heard it there as well, and heck whenever I’m the customer I definitely tell myself that I, the customer, am 100% without a doubt always right.

The truth is, however, all customers (besides me of course) are not always right and often they aren’t even close to it! Nonetheless, as a business professional it’s your job and your employee’s job to make the customer feel that they’re right or at least feel like they aren’t completely wrong. I like to think of this skill as Business Finesse and I think it’s a skill everyone in an organization should have.

Here in the Search Mojo world of search engine optimization and pay per click advertising we often face clients (customers) that have never participated in any type of search marketing. On one side we have clients that don’t know anything about search marketing and rely on us to be the experts (we love these clients) and on the other side we have clients that don’t know anything about search marketing, but think they know everything about it because they have been in marketing for years (let’s just say these clients keep our jobs interesting).

As the client friendly yet search savvy agency that we are, it’s our job to let these know-it-alls down easy without making them feel wrong, wrong, wrong. The key is to be tactful. Stephan Schiffman said in his book, The 25 Sales Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople:

“You can say you disagree with what a customer does or says, but you also must be able to say “here’s why” or “I have another idea.” Simply put, you need to be able to explain your thinking.”

And I know what you’re going say, 9 out 10 people here at Search Mojo don’t have a sales title, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to sell their knowledge and ideas to the clients on a daily basis. Think about it, isn’t this true within your organization as well?

I’m going to assume yes. And for that reason I strongly encourage you to test the business finesse skills of potential employees in their interview. I personally like to use past job experiences to determine their level of business finesse. I’ll admit that we have it easy because Search Mojo hires most individuals straight out of college so they’ve had jobs with heavy customer interaction like clothing stores or restaurants.  I typically ask them about a situation in which the customer was clearly wrong and how they handled it. Chances are, the amount of business finesse they used in that situation is about the same amount of business finesse they’ll use in their new position.  Based on their answer, would you want them speaking with your company’s clients?

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