3 Reasons Why Customers Are NOT Always Right

06/19/2015 11:10 am ET | Updated Jun 19, 2016

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Let's get real for a moment about our customers. It's true, most business owners are scared of saying it, but would love to shout it out from the rooftops at least once in their line of business; customers are NOT always right! Especially customers who use that long held mindset to blatantly manipulate business owners into getting their way.

Customers are the lifeline of a growing and thriving business. However, not all customers are good customers and you cannot please everyone.

Here are 3 reasons why customers are not always right and how to retain the right ones.

1) Not all customers are created equal

When running a business, naturally you will interact with a myriad of customer personalities. These customers can be broken down in to 3 main types:

Loyal customers

These customers support you more often than any other customer. It's more than just a price tag that keeps them loyal to your brand. If they are given the choice to choose between the same item from your business or a competitor, even with a price difference, they will always stick with your business. Loyal customers will freely advocate for your business and bring you more business, because they want to see you succeed.

Even with the most loyal customers, you still have to do your part to keep them loyal. You can do that by providing them with a consistent "wow" experience. A "wow" customer experience is when a business is really great at providing their customers with amazing products and also genuinely provides excellent service. When a customer experiences both components simultaneously and consistently, it activates an emotion that creates loyalty and trust, which turns that customer into a walking word-of-mouth marketer for your business. Now imagine having 100 or 500 customers just like that. You now start to build a tribe of supporters for your business.

Deal-driven customers

These customers only come around when there is a discount or special. They won't tell their friends about your business or great service, but they will tell their friends about the discount or special. They care more about getting a one time sale than about your business.

The key here is learning their buying or visiting patterns and turning them in to loyal or more frequent customers. Understanding the type of deals they like and how often they visit will help to determine how to customize your marketing approach to reach them often. The more they are able to engage with your business' "wow" experience, the easier it will be to turn them into loyal customers.

Pop up customers

These customers are not regular visitors and they are not driven by sales. They just pop up every now and then. They don't join your rewards or loyalty program, but have no issue with taking advantage of a good sale. These are the customers that will check out as a 'guest' if you have an ecommerce business or don't give their name or email when checking out at your brick and mortar business. It's not that they don't like your business, they just want to engage with you on their terms. However, showing pop up customers that you value their business and feedback, along with their consistent interaction with your wow customer experience, this customer type will soon join your list of loyal customers.

Once you understand these three types of customers, and provide them a wow experience on every interaction, then you're well on your way to better customer retention and growth.


2) Not all customers are good customers

It's important to know when to say "No" and when to cut a bad customer loose. A bad customer can drain your energy and affect your wow experience, which will eventually affect your loyal and frequent customers. Don't let a few bad apples ruin the hard work you have invested in your business.

A bad customer can have a great experience with your business and would never recommend you to friends or leave a great review, but as soon as they have a bad experience, they'll make sure the world knows about it. A bad customer will make you feel as if you owe them something.

Of course you appreciate all your customers and some customers needs more attention than others, but don't get taken advantage of by a bad customer.

3) You cannot please everyone

As business owners, it's in our nature to care about what other people think. If you were to listen to and change every single thing a customer complain about, your business would no longer be what you intended it to be and you would eventually lose your vision and passion in the process. If multiple customers complain about the same issue, its definitely worth evaluating and come up with a solution that fits your mission and that will make a clear difference to the customers.

Most importantly, don't be so hard on yourself, customers will come and go.

I remember the second year of starting and running Sociallybuzz, I would take it very very hard when I would lose a client and most time it was for no particular reason. It would hurt and I always blamed myself for not doing everything to keep them. It was so bad that I would get depressed every time I lose a client. I started to evaluate why clients would leave and match that up with the service we promised and were executing on behalf of the client. More than half the time, we were doing everything we promised. We went above and beyond to help our customers achieve their specific social media goals.

So I said to myself, if I can honestly say we've done everything as a company to deliver on the work we promised to the client, then there is no need to beat myself up if the client decides to break up for any reason. I also learned a few things while using data and feedback to find out why customers leave and found that even if we did the most amazing work and provide great results, we would still get clients that would not be happy and would criticize everything we do. In those scenarios, at the end of our agreement, I would thank them for their business, wish them future success and move on, no love lost. At Sociallybuzz, we love what we do and we do it with passion, transparency and dedication. With that, we're always happy with our decision knowing that we cannot please everyone.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.