We’ve all heard the old saying, “The customer is always right.” But in so many cases, we scratch our head and have to ask ourselves, are they really?
We’re now living in a time where people have become accustomed to instant gratification. We can shop without leaving our couch, we can order pretty much anything to be delivered straight to our doors and we no longer need to go from store to store to find items we want because they’re a simple online search away. But with that instant gratification people’s general attitudes and expectations have become much more demanding and, in some cases, unrealistic and downright unbearable. However, with all that said, customer service is still an integral part of doing business.
Even with our changing world, customer service is still the cornerstone of every successful business. But why is it so important?
Every industry functions differently, but the service industry has some hard rules that we operate by. Whether you’re a hair stylist, a delivery company, a retailer, a doctor, a florist or a pet groomer, when you provide a service to people, there are certain expectations that come along with it.
Providing a service in a niche industry gives you more room to flex your muscles and dictate the rules, but in industries that have a lot of competition, it comes down to providing a service that people not only need but one that they want. Some people choose a business to provide them with a service based on cost, others choose by location and some choose the business because they enjoy the experience. That last part is especially true when it comes to choosing a business that provides personal services.
The keyword here is “choice.” Customers have a choice where they spend their money and which businesses they support—and pet grooming customers are no exception. Pet grooming is as much a personal service as going to a person’s own hairdresser or manicurist. For many people, the family dog is not a pet but rather a member of the family. And to others, their dog is favored even more than their children or spouse it seems. Many customers want the best possible experience for their furry family member, but that includes the best possible experience for themselves in the process.
Creating good customer service sometimes lies within the services you provide and how you provide them, but it also lies within the way you handle difficult situations when they arise. I personally don’t believe the mantra that the customer is always right. But if you want your business to have a good reputation and you want to grow your business, I do believe that sometimes even when you feel that you’re in the right you have to keep calm and smile on. Now I’m not saying there isn’t a time or a place to put your foot down and let a customer know when they’ve crossed a line, but you definitely need to choose your battles, and when you choose to take them on, you need to do so professionally.
In the days of old, a bad customer experience or dispute was mostly unknown to other customers or potential customers; however, in today’s world, we have online reviews and social media, and disgruntled customers can make their grievances more widely and more quickly known. Should this scare you into caving to every whim of every customer? Certainly not. You have to have policies and you should stick to them. But sometimes it goes a long way to work with a situation and come to a resolve rather than burn a bridge and have a thorn in your side simply because you just feel you’re right. Again, choose your battles.
Often I follow the conversations on many of the groomer forums online. The scenario goes as follows: A groomer will pose a question in the hopes of receiving suggestions on how to handle an angry or disgruntled customer. Fellow groomers will then answer with their opinions of how they think the situation should be handled. Some offer really sound advice—good, level-headed strategies to resolve the issue and make everyone happy—but sometimes, I’m truly stunned at some of the responses. I read and wonder if these comments are coming from people who have actually done some of these suggestions, or if they are the fantasy responses they wish they could have used but know better because it would be detrimental to a business’s reputation.
I try to look at those difficult situations from all angles—the business owner, the individual groomer and the customer as well. I try to think how this situation could be resolved in a way where both parties feel they’re being heard and respected, yet both can compromise to find the resolution. Can that always happen? No, not in every situation. But sometimes a customer is better off finding another place to take their business, whether it be because they cannot find happiness with the situation or because the business no longer wishes to provide that customer a service. Either way, flying off the handle and telling a customer to “go skip rocks” (or your favorite version of a profanity-laced response) probably isn’t the best course of action.
Remember that owning and growing a business is a marathon, not a sprint. It isn’t always easy being in the service industry and people aren’t always the easiest to deal with, but it doesn’t always have to be a challenge. There are professional ways to deescalate situations and make both yourself and the disgruntled customer happy all while keeping your business’s reputation in good standing.
The customer isn’t always right…but then again, neither are you. Keep calm and groom on! ✂️