New to HR? Customers Can Be Wrong

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” While I understand why this saying came about, I’m here to tell you that it’s wrong.

I’ve worked plenty of customer service jobs, in person and behind a phone, or computer screen. I’ve dealt with happy customers, angry customers, spiteful customers, and customers being clearly deceitful. Through all of these actions, as an employee, you’ve probably been trained to still keep your composure and do the right thing. But what are you really supposed to do when a customer is wrong and you’re the HR department? Here are a few tips on dealing with customers who just aren’t right.

Give Them What They Want

I know, it sounds crazy, a customer has just downright lied to face or over the phone and I’m telling you to give them what they want. Now, if it is something excessive don’t follow this tip. However, if you’re in the food service industry and the customer is incorrect, it is still important for you to keep face regarding the action. One of the reasons I love HR, and this is probably bad, is because I occasionally let out some of my sarcasm in answers. Giving the customer what they want, but also informing them this is going on file and unless a complaint is brought up again, that can be proven, this will be the last time. Unfortunately, some customers will take advantage of companies being nice and doing the right thing.

Correct Them

But always do it politely. I’ve had customers throw out “data” and “facts” from their opinion and not that of the truth. Correcting them, the proper way will allow the customer to know the true facts and data. It is not your job to fight with the customer over this complaint – give them the correct information and if they want to go around and around about it, do not continue the argument. Having a conversation, even when two people do not believe the same thing, doesn’t have to be a bad experience. Sometimes HR can not solve the complaint because customers won’t take it as an answer, and that’s when the owner or lawyers get involved.

Once Lawyers Are Brought Up, Abandon Ship

Companies have lawyers for a reason, they fight bigger battles than the ones we can quickly resolve. And even when problems can be fixed quickly, it might be better to involve lawyers. Once a customer says, “I’ll be getting my lawyer involved” or anything close to this line, that is when you tell them, “I’m sorry we could not resolve this quickly, once contacted by your legal guide, our layers will respond. If there is nothing else I can do for you at this moment, thank you and have a great day.” Will some people find it rude? Possibly. But they brought up lawyers first.

These tips are not the only way to fix customer complaints when the customer is wrong, they’re just a few ways I’ve handled certain situations. No matter what, everyone deserves to be treated with respect. And remember, customers do sometimes call to tell you how great an employee was or how the company helped them in a great way. Don’t allow the complaints to cloud your judgment. Sometimes customers need to be heard, without them, where would our companies go?

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Jazmine Wilkes

Proud millennial human resource leader focused on sharing HR insights, learnings and resources. Sharer of memes. Author of HRJazzy. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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  1. David Taylor says

    Its also about letting the customers ‘save face’. If the customer thinks that we have fought back and ‘won’ with our true facts and data, they will feel that they have been embarrassed and this will make them even more angry. Much better to do as you say, give them what they want (up to a point) and subtly let them know that you have understood their game! Good customer service is about knowing what you can do and also what you can’t and being confident with both positions.


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