The Ten Commandments for customers
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Much ado — and rightfully so — is made about delivering excellent customer service. You take care of your customers, give them the products and services they desire, go out of your way to treat them respectfully, and diligently work hard to earn their business and loyalty.
But do customers have a reciprocal obligation to earn your respect — and service — by treating you equally well? Or is the business-customer relationship one-sided, that the business must bend over backwards to keep the customer happy without regard to the behavior or demands exhibited by the customer?
Is this customer so important, so valuable, that you as a business will tolerate any kind of behavior, no matter how egregious or disrespectful?
I think there are mutual obligations in the business-customer relationship. Here are my Ten Commandments for customers:
1. Thou art not always right; in fact, thou art frequently wrong.
Being on the cashier side of the counter makes you a fallible human being with imperfections, but on the customer side, you’re an infallible perfect being who’s never wrong?
You: "But the sign says $5.99, not $9.99."
Store: "The sign is for a different item entirely, along with product description, sku number, and size. The sign you’re pointing to clearly says it’s for a particular light bulb, not the outlet you’re holding in your hand."
You: "So what difference does that make? The sign still says $5.99"
You: "I have to return this air filter; you sold me the wrong size. Why didn’t you tell me the right size for my hall register?"
Store: "How would I know what sizes are in your house?"
You: "It’s your job to know these things."
2. Thou shalt not grunt or simply nod your head when you're spoken to in greeting.
Store clerk: “Good morning. What can we help you with today?”
What happened to polite discourse? Humans pride themselves above other animals on the gift of language; so use it or you will forget how to speak at all.
3. Thou shalt not throw money at the clerk.
The clerk is not a street musician with a hat on the ground that you’re throwing coins into; count out your money and politely hand it to the clerk who likewise will hand your change back to you and not scatter it on the counter for you to retrieve.
4. Thou shalt not assume the store's clerks are morons who couldn’t work anywhere else.
Most of the people I’ve worked with in retail have college degrees and owned their own companies.
5. Thou shalt not throw a temper tantrum if you don’t get your way.
Kicking and screaming and hurling insults and threats does not make you any more right or more likely to get your way.
In fact, you might find yourself banned entirely from the establishment or escorted out the door by law enforcement.
6. Thou shalt not cheat or lie.
You: "I bought this wheelbarrow yesterday to haul some rocks — it was already battered and dented and scratched when I bought it—but I don’t need it now and want a refund."
You: "I want a cash refund on this item and don’t have a receipt."
Store: "You did not get this from our store; we do not carry this item and never have."
You: "I know I bought it here for X dollars, and if you won’t give me cash back, then I’ll take store credit."
You (after Biblical rains have ended): “I bought this sump pump a few days ago and don’t need it anymore."
You: "I’m calling corporate headquarters to complain about you." (After being arrested for shoplifting.)
7. Thou shalt not offer critiques on the clerk’s appearance or make suggestive remarks as if he/she is an entrée on a menu.
You: "You would be so much more handsome if you cut your hair;" or
You: "Yes, you sure can help me, you sweet thing — what time do you get off work?"
8. Thou shalt not accuse the store of being crooks because you don’t understand math.
You: "What do you mean a refund of $15? I paid $20."
Store: "It usually costs $20 but you bought it on sale and your receipt shows you only paid the $15 sale price, so you get a refund on what you paid."
You: "It doesn’t matter what I actually paid; I want a refund on what it usually costs. You guys are crooks and I’m reporting you.”
9. Thou shalt not insist on putting a credit card refund on a different card.
You: "Well, my husband bought this item with his credit card, but we share an account so you can put the refund back on my credit card."
That’s a no; credit card companies and credit card processing companies have very specific rules on refunds that must be followed. Besides that, does the store clerk intimately know your banking arrangements, know your spouse, and know what bank cards you share?
10. Thou shalt not walk away while you’re asking for help.
You (while still walking): "Where can I find this gadget?"
Clerk (calling to a retreating and distant back): "It’s on aisle….."
In today’s rush-rush world of busyness, let us not forget to be cordial and pleasant to each other in our daily interactions — wherever those interactions lead you.
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