Is the Customer Really Always Right?

Paul Riddle
Contributing Writer
Success Group International

You Will Find That Sometimes Its Best to Lose a Battle in order to Win the War!

Like every company, on occasion, you have a client who has an issue with your product and/or service and contacts you wanting assistance or money back.  After evaluating the situation, it seems that neither your product nor your service was at fault.  What do you do?  Do you refuse to return the customers money?  Do you perform the additional work for free as a way of keeping that good will?

Recently, one of your AirTime members contacted a Client Success Manager (CSM) with such a situation.  This particular member sent his best technician to a tune-up call.  The member believed that his tech did everything he was supposed to, but two days later, the client’s furnace stopped.  The problem was a bad thermocouple, which had nothing to do with the tune-up.  The homeowner claimed it was the member’s fault and wanted them to pay for the repairs even though it wasn’t their responsibility.

The member seemed correct.  The broken down thermocouple was an unrelated problem not caused by a poor tune-up.  There’s no way the tech would have been at fault.  However, the problem remains: The customer will never believe it’s not the tech’s fault.  When you consider the time, effort, and frustration that will be exerted to try and explain why it’s not your fault, you would be better off simply doing the repair.

Even if you convince the client it’s not your fault, you’d be winning the battle, but not the war.  The homeowner might pay you for the repair, but he/she would never feel good about using your company again, and that person would tell all his/her family and friends not to use you either.

Furthermore, if this was your “best” technician, he should be offering options to replace common maintenance items when a breakdown is inevitable, which was the case with a bad thermocouple.  Prevention is always the best policy, and your technicians should present all of the repair options to your clients.  Then, if they chose not to replace the thermocouple at that time, you’d have it in writing that you recommended it and they said no.

Until you give the client the option to be wrong, they will always be right.

About the Author: Paul Riddle, Vice President, Success Group International

Paul Riddle has over 25 years of hands‐on experience as GM, COO, CEO, and owner of service companies specifically in the mechanical and restoration segments. Throughout his career, he has personally trained the owners and employees of hundreds of businesses, including several turnaround situations.  His hands‐on training for owners and their employees has been in the areas of business planning, sales & marketing, and company culture. Paul enjoys applying his knowledge and experience working directly with business owners and their employees to increase profits, improve the company’s present value, and unlock the intrinsic value of the business when sold. Paul joined SGI in 2009 as the VP of Operations.

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