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114 Key Principles for Success

Principle 3 - The Customer is Always Right

A grocery chain, named Stew Leonard's, has a large stone with the following rules etched into it. As you enter the store you see:

Our Policy



There's something about this rule. You may be thinking "I don't have customers," you do. They're not called customers. They go by the names:
  • Users
  • Employees
  • Employer
  • Manager
  • Coworker
  • Developer
  • Boss
  • Boss's boss
  • CEO
  • Shareholders
  • The public

Every person you supply with anything is your customer. Treat them as Stew Leonard treats his.
A health food company has consistently had bad customer service with me. They also set up a poor confirmation bias.
  • Originally they were charging $15 to receive discounted prices
  • They were charging sales tax on an item that's not taxable
  • Salespeople were obnoxious and appear to be trained to put customer down, by stressing how I'm losing out by not signing up for their $49 a year advanced membership with a negative tone-of-voice.
  • I call customer service on Sunday but they don't have it on weekends
  • I'm not signed up to receive discounts but I think I am

If you want to make customers unhappy and not want to do business, copy this model. If you want your customers to love you then copy Stew Leonard's.

Another thing to realize is that if you work at a big company and another team depends on your work, i.e. you are the supplier and they are the customer. This relationship could disappear at any moment. Your internal customer could hire someone on their team, consultant, or external service to do the same job as you and now you could be out of a job. They could find a cheaper, better, faster, or higher quality version of your service.

I recently visited my dry cleaner and decided to one of my principles Step outside of your comfort zone. I had several broken buttons on my shirt and I confronted the dry cleaner about them which I'm normally afraid to do. So she says, "when they push down the press with such great force it can break some buttons." She asks me to show the broken buttons, and I get happy that she's putting safety pins where the broken button is.

She hands me my receipt and there is an extra $2.00 charge that says "Button." She admitted that she broke the button and now is charging me to fix it. This is an example of bad customer service. She totally missed meeting my expectation that if you break my buttons I don't have to pay to fix them.

Another example is a burger place near me that charges $0.25 for a pickle on the burger. This is a huge mistake as I know people who refuse to go there due to the principle.  

Keep this in mind. You want your customers to love you and you want to always exceed their expectations.

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