Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The customer is always right!

One of the key components of every lecture I attended during graduate school was the concept that the customer is always right.

One of the key arguments I proposed to each professor in every class during graduate school was "who says the customer is always right?"

One of life's lessons that I have learned and have used is that truly, the customer is always right. Even when you think they are wrong. And it is so true, it takes 60 minutes to gain a customer and 60 seconds to lose them.

I'm not sure why there are those in the creative industry who think this is any different in this industry, but there are! If I teach a class and I have an unhappy student, the first thing I will do is offer them a refund, or a free product kit, or a private tutoring session. I try to determine why they are unhappy, but only after I have offered a full refund. Keep in mind, a customer is quite different from a peer, a fellow instructor, a designer who feels they have to compete with me. A customer is someone who has paid to attend a class with me, or purchased a product from me.

As a customer, I can probably aid in ruining a business just about as fast as anyone else can. I can be true blue and loyal until I come upon a faulty product. I will email, call or write and explain my disatisfaction with the product. I will even give a company 3 strikes as in my recent purchase of new kitchen appliances. But after 3 strikes, they are sort of "out".

I happen to teach a lot in the crafts industry. And I just make an assumption that there are going to be students who do not like my teaching style, are not happy with the final project, think it was too complex or too easy.....and I go prepared to make refunds or give something to these students. I respect their right to disagree with my teaching styles and the projects I present to them. They are my customers and they are "right".

We were also taught in graduate school about the concept of personal space. That the 3 feet immediately surrounding you is your personal space and should not be invaded without an invitation. I used to laugh as that was about the time my "hugging " ex-mother-in-law would always walk into my personal space, uninvited, to give me a hug. OK, so she never learned about personal space and nowadays I love her for just that reason! But there is a rule in life that you do not reach out to touch another person in any way unless you are somehow invited to do so. Don't you just hate it when a sales clerk in a department store touches your elbow to get you to look at a different bra? I want to reach out an hit her! LOL!

Of course, you do not need to go to graduate school to learn these simple lessons in life. I did! I'm a pretty slow learner, but once I learn something, it ususally sticks with me. I have also learned that if I violate these simple truths, if I accuse my customer of being wrong, or if I violate their personal space, then I deserve whatever I get from them. For the most part, I happen to think that my customers are right. I love their feedback, their input, even their negative comments. It helps me grow as an artist and as an instructor. It's always a great learning curve for me. But I hope I never quit learning!

1 comment:

dpelham said...

Well maybe we should just meet like this, because if we met in person I would invade your personal space with a big ol' hug.