What kind of customer are you?

The customer is always right, right? Sure. (insert sarcasm) There are many that believe this statement to be true. You know who they are. The customers who will try to bend the rules, take advantage of sales, return policies, demand outrageously, speak in a demeaning way or use foul language. They are right, right? NO! No they are not.

This statement drives me absolutely bonkers! Almost to the point of the unruly “right” customer. You see, the customer can be wrong. Yes, I said it. Let me be punished, burned at the stake, whipped a million times. If that is what makes this statement disappear then I am all for it.

Example after example. We see it in the store monthly. Lately we have been seeing it weekly. I’ve spoken to other business owners and they are dealing with it increasingly as well. I am not sure anymore about what is going on. Is it the pressure of the workplace? People’s hectic lives? Misleading competition? Or is it plain and simple that we have allowed the consumer to demand to the point of adult temper tantrums if they cannot get their way. Their way? Even that sends me over the edge.

People have forgotten their manners. Forgotten how to dress appropriately outside of their home. Forgotten how to be respectful to each other. Forgotten how to be human. We are like a bunch of wild animals, rushing from place to place, demanding more and more. Greed. Gluttony. Disgusting.

Are you our customer?

What I have come to learn is that I can’t fix these people. So you feel the need to yell and curse at my staff over a human error that we didn’t make, you did – so you won’t shop with me anymore. OK. You accidentally entered the store while we were not open yet and you were asked to leave and come back when the isles were clear – so you won’t shop with us anymore. OK. You don’t like the flower selection that the sender chose for you, personally, in our store – you won’t shop with me anymore. OK. Don’t get me wrong. We make mistakes. Everyone does. Do you know why? The reason is simple. WE ARE HUMAN and HUMANS MAKE MISTAKES. Point blank.

In an industry where we are sending flowers or plants in relation to an emotion, we understand it more then anyone else. What we can’t understand is where we lost our patience, our ability to see the other side. Small businesses have the ability to give you one on one attention. We know you by name. Remember detailed information about you that enhances your experience. Offer you a HUMAN experience. We don’t want to be the box stores of the world where you are just a dollar sign.

This week I had the unfortunate experience of informing a customer that my staff had failed to explain that anything purchased on sale was a final sale. She was returning marked down items for the 4th time. Each time making another purchase but in that returning items that didn’t qualify for exchange. I apologized for the errors. Informed her that I would do it this time but I would not do it again. At the end of our transaction, where we were both very civil to each other, her demeanor changed and she informed me that I didn’t appreciate the amount of money she spent in my store and she would not ever be returning. Before I responded she quickly started to head for the exit. Not allowing me the opportunity to respectfully explain that I did appreciate her business, very much so. Did I also tell you she was leaving with out her change? I asked her if she would like it. I could have kept it. Not said a word. But we don’t operate like that. She did and reluctantly came back knowing she would have to look at me. Did I also tell you that she didn’t look me in the eye when she told me that in the first place? At that moment I told her I absolutely appreciated her business and that again I was sorry for the miscommunication but I have good reason for policies and I am sure she would understand them. She swiftly headed back towards the exit, madder than a Hatter, that she would never return. Could we have corrected the error any better? No. Was the error worth this type of reaction? No. Are we HUMAN? Hell YES!

What is that experience worth to you? Are you a “right” customer or are you a HUMAN customer? At the end of the day I want the one who is Human. The one I can apologize to and accept an apology from. The one who knows that I am not going to make you happy 100% of the time but I will be fair and I will be a good business human if you can be a human customer.

Please go out into this world kinder every day. Each and every one of us are working and living for all the same reasons. Never with the intention to cause anyone any harm or foul.

Until next time, N

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