The Complaining Customer Case Study

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Université Saint-Joseph
Faculté de Gestion et de Management

Situation Analysis

Case study : The complaining customer

Mahmoud SALEH

March 2013

1.One of the oldest beliefs in management is that the customer is always right, but I firmly believe, based on my personal opinion and on the research I have made concerning this particular subject, that such a misleading belief has already caused the ruin of more than a business. Then why the customer isn’t always right? Well there certainly are hundreds and hundreds of reasons and examples to prove that the customer could sometimes be wrong, but I consider the following ones to be the most important: - Some customers want to pay a price below what the seller feels is fair, and sometimes even below the cost to the seller. The seller has no reason to agree with these conditions for the sale. Some customers are simply unrealistic and trying to offer them what they are seeking is impossible. - Some customers abuse the firm's employees: The customer is always right means that if any conflict occurs between an employee and a customer the company will consistently side with the customer even if he is actually wrong. Such a behavior will end-up causing the discontent of our employees and will result in a bad customer service.  Put employees first, and they will be happy at work. Employees who are happy at work give better customer service because they are motivated and feel valued. - Customers aren’t always sure what they want so when we try desperately to respond to what they asked for we end up forgetting what they really need. One of the well-known examples that perfectly illustrate that is the Sony Walkman.  Customers clearly told the market researchers they did not need or want a small radio to listen to while walking around. Sony decided the customers were wrong and persisted with their idea of music available everywhere and it ended up being a huge success. Having said that we must not forget that the main goal of any firm is to make money and such a thing is impossible without satisfied customers. So even if he is not always right, most of the time, the customer is king. 2. “Customers complain all the time. When a delivery arrives late, a product falls short of its promise, or a service is perceived as inefficient. And that’s the good news, because at least they’re giving you a chance to make things right.” Handling complaining customers is very tricky, so to be effective, the customer service has to be proactive, the complains must travel very fast, the feedback must be proper and very quick, and the front line staff should be trained and empowered enough to be able to handle the complaining customer. While trying to handle the complaint of Mr. Shelton, Presto Cleaner omitted all these facts. For example the customer was not able to reach the complaint department as soon as he asked for and even when he did reach it he still didn’t receive a proper or quick feedback. To be able to handle the situation more effectively, Presto Cleaner should have done the following: * Know that the customer is most of the time right: Customers judge a business by how well it responds to their complaints, and they know they can decide to go elsewhere if they’re aren’t satisfied. Yet many customers want to remain loyal, especially those who take the time to complain, because they expect the matter to be resolved. These are often the company’s most valuable customers, and in fact it was the case with Mr. Shelton. * Apologize: Whatever the issue, whatever the complaint, the firm must be prepared to offer a sincere apology. In many cases, that’s all the customer wishes to hear, but instead of doing so, Paul Hoffner almost accused the customer of trying to extort money. * Describing the solution, then taking action: After a complaint has been lodged, the company must offer a quick fix whenever possible, and outline the steps it plans to take. If the situation is complicated, the...
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