The customer is always right..

You’ve probably heard that one before.

And for the most part it’s true. But I remember a friend once telling me of a dilemma she had in her business regarding her customers.  She ran a house party business up and catered for groups of people who would descend on her 5 acre pile on a Friday and depart on a Sunday, having been fed and watered all weekend whilst letting their hair down and thoroughly relaxing. You could get up to pretty much whatever you wanted, and nothing was too much trouble for my friend to ensure her guests had a good time.

Most groups were great fun – they had their party and didn’t let a good time get in the way of good manners. One particular group however (including a couple of Division 1 footballers) abused the hospitality greatly – a few too many sweet sherries and before you know it there is a tell-tale smell next morning.  No-one wanted to fess up (to the throw up), and the least said about the ensuing search the better, but the upshot was that the group wanted to rebook and my friend wanted to politely decline the offer of entertaining them again.

The next group to pitch up for accommodation were security guys for Billy Connolly (he lived just up the road) and the boss, a lovely chap called Mark Hamilton who used to be Paul McCartney’s personal bodyguard for many years (I’m told Stella called him Uncle Mark).  On discussing business with Mark, my friend asked him his advice as to what to do about the undesirables who were keen on returning.

Mark had some words of wisdom. “I was once told by a very successful American businessman that the customer is ALWAYS right.  Until they’re wrong. That’s what I’ve lived by in my business ever since, and it’s done me no harm. Tell your guests that  you are sorry, but you feel there are other venues better suited to their party, that you are glad they had a good time with you and flattered that they want to return but that it won’t be happening”.

So that’s what she did. The group were disappointed (and I suspect, a little ashamed) but they realised that they had crossed the line and that was the end of that.

The Works are absolutely behind this theory.  Customer service is one of our real strengths and we take every opportunity to guide, train and develop our staff to be market leaders in this area. We are thrilled therefore to be once again sponsoring the Best Customer Service Award at the forthcoming Leeds Retail Awards, to be held at Leeds Armouries on October 2nd 2011. Voting has now finished, but keep a look out in local press and on the Leeds Retail awards website for details of the winners

Leeds Retail Awards

And the award for best customer service goes to…