5 Ways You Can Help The Customer Be RIGHT.

The Customer is not always right. I know, Nordstrom’s would disagree 99% of the time, and believe me – Zappos, Nordstrom’s and companies like that are my Customer Service ROLE MODELS. But I’m a pragmatist, and I realize that my clients (primarily small business owners) do not have the very deep pockets OR net margins of either of those big behemoths. Which means that if someone mis-orders or has misplaced expectations, it would break their company to try to accommodate the clients’ every request.Communicate Clearly

So, do you tell the customer they’re WRONG? No. I won’t say “never,” but rarely.

What is essential is that you manage your customer’s expectations from proposal to contract and throughout your project. Customers are not WRONG if they are informed. In most cases, complaints grow from misinformed expectations. This means that you do the following:

1. Don’t oversell no matter how badly you want the job. We all get giddy with the thought of landing The Big One; but if the big one is too big for us to haul in, it’s just a waste of energy going after them.
2. Spell out every detail of what is and is not your responsibility in your contract. Put in a clause that clearly states that any features/add-ons not specifically listed in this contracted will result in additional charges. Highlight that section.
3. Head off disappointment at the pass: many sales types really love being loved. There are times things are mentioned in passing while speaking with a client that you’re tempted to let slide. Don’t. Immediately but politely let them know that additional charges may be incurred for the ‘extra’ they mentioned and that you’d be glad to add that to the contract.
4. Put Change Orders in writing; any verbal agreement during a project needs to be backed up in writing to avoid confusion, intended or not.
5. Make sure Sales communicates clearly with Accounting: in some cases they both may be YOU. If you’ve agreed to a Change Order, add it to the invoice and send the client an updated version. Nothing is more awkward then sending out an incorrect, less expensive invoice and then having to ask for more money that really isn’t ‘more money’ at all.

The nut & bolts of all of this is clear communication, both with your customer and your internal staff. Nothing eases tensions and averts problems better than consistent, clear communication. Start making the above a reflexive habit and you’ll be amazed at how much happier your customers are.