Even as business climates are competitive, there is no good and sensible reason to succumb to every customer demand, especially if it is unreasonable and based on fallacies.
Recently, I read on a social media post, of a customer who bought a fashion item, and claimed that just with one single use, the item was damaged. She went back to the store, demanding a one-for-one exchange, claiming that given the high price of the item, it should not spoil so easily.
Sounds reasonable? Maybe… until you see the flawed argument and fallacy. First, the evidence from the photograph she posted online showed that the item was damaged through either (1) an accident, or (2) an intentional damage.
And, here’s the fallacy of her argument, that if an item costs so much, it should not spoil easily.
This brings to mind, many fragile items on the market today, that would cost a great deal of money, that would not be covered under any one-for-one exchange or refunds, due to an abuse of the item from a customer. For example, if a customer bought an expensive silk dress that carried instructions that the dress must be dry-cleaned and handled only with low heat, then if the customer accidentally or wilfully put the silk dress into the washer and dryer, there is no recourse. Likewise, if out of a fit of anger, a customer destroys an expensive laptop with a hammer, the evidence will prevent a vendor from exchanging a good laptop with the wilfully damaged one.
Why is there such an aftermarket space for accessories for smartphones, laptops, automobiles and so on? For example, when you buy an expensive smartphone, you may then purchase a screen protector, and a protective casing, so that that expensive smartphone would be better protected from daily use (and misuse/abuse). Likewise, when you purchase an expensive laptop, you may buy a good quality laptop bag that offers adequate padding and protection for your spanking new laptop. And automobiles also enjoy tremendous add-ons, with owners protecting the interiors, the exteriors, the innards (engine), and so on, just so that the wear and tear of daily use of the automobiles will not wear out the automobiles sooner than the owners hope. Likewise, fashion items also demand a lot of delicate care for them, to reduce the effects of wear and tear.
Many product warranties carry extensive terms and conditions, especially when it comes to care of the product, and how it is handled. Products may carry extended warranties that offer greater protection (including accidental damage), but only as a paid premium warranty.
Out of 100 customers, most customers would have simple desires and demands that would meet fairly and squarely with the deliverables and performance of the suppliers and vendors. In short, most customers and suppliers/vendors have mutual respect for each other to know the terms and conditions of a product. A small minority of customers and their complaints can receive adequate resolution and relationships maintained. But there will always be a very, very small minority of customers who will never benefit from a respectful service relationship, and may be toxic to managing our fragile frontline workforce. When we approach a public servant to help us with something, we have to be respectful when making any request, and have to be reasonable too. Expect the same in any human relationship, whether it be in customer service, or even in a family relationship. The same rules apply.
Think of the fable of the princess and the pea. If you have a princess, you certainly won’t expect the princess to take abuse from anyone or anything. Likewise, because a product is very expensive, it might also carry alot of conditions to caring for it. Remember, the (paying) customer is not always right. The simplest and wisest way, is to respect every customer (paying, internal, suppliers, etc), with the most committed delivery you can provide.
Dr Seamus Phan is the Head of Content and CTO at McGallen & Bolden. He is an expert in branding, marketing, communication, leadership training, crisis management, and entrepreneurship. This article may appear concurrently on his blog. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2018 Seamus Phan et al. All rights reserved.