How to Handle Customers As an Employee

The adage is that "the customer is always right." Despite the repetition of this adage by many businesses and business gurus, there are many people who have a hard time believing it's true. After reviewing these steps, you might take a different perspective on the way to treat customers.


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    Treat your customers well. Give your customers excellent service, a smile, and ask if everything was to their liking. People enjoy being engaged in this way when they shop and it helps even the most flustered customer to remember that they had a good experience in your store.
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    Ask customers if they are looking for a particular item, or if you can do anything to help them find the right gift or service. Customers who appear confused, worried or helpless do need a hand. Even those who already know what they're looking for and where it is may need a hand in choosing between prices and new items that have arrived.
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    Listen. This may seem straightforward but in sales and service, this is frequently not the case. More often than not, people selling or providing services think they already know what the customer is asking and switch off before the full explanation has been given. This can lead to time being waster, a frustrated customer and poor communications that will impact on the remainder of the sale or experience.
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    Be honest and straightforward. Nothing irritates a customer more than being given vague answers and push-offs to queries about stock or services. If you don't know the answer, don't guess. Tell the customer that you don't know, but that you will immediately go and find out. They will respect you for that. If you cannot get the answer, request the contact details of the customer and offer to get back to them later.
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    Stop conversations with other employees during a transaction. Once you devote your time to a customer, whether it be to discuss a sale or during the payment for the sale, do not ignore the customer and make this a time to carry on a conversation with another staff member. This is annoying to customers, who wonder if your mind is really on the job, if you are properly adding up the costs and returning correct change and if you are genuinely interested in the customer as a person. Put aside all distractions and concentrate on the customer at hand; there will be enough slow moments for you to pick up conversations with fellow employees again.
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    If you can't help, don't hinder. It only makes matters worse if you try to stop a sale leaving when a customer has made up his or her mind that your store does not carry the item wanted or the price wished for. Do not leave a bitter impression on the customer's mind by getting irritable, disinterested or unfriendly with the customer. Support the customer's decision to go elsewhere but make it a hard choice by suggesting how your store can make things better. Offer to match a price if possible, offer a rain-check or offer to provide a discount the next time the customer does decide to return to your store. You may have lost the current sale but that is no reason to lose future sales and the customer will remember.
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    Be willing to seek help. If things are really heating up, or the customer really wants to see the manager, oblige. It will be very obvious to the manager that it is a difficult customer rather than your sales or serving technique that is in question.


  • Is the customer always right? Not always. The saying applies solely to the customer being right about what she wants, not necessarily in other cases. Do not tolerate verbal abuse. Many customers abuse this little saying to conform to how they think employees should act. You are there to serve the customer, but you are never the customer's servant. Nor is it an excuse to return items soiled or broken by the customer, nor is it a reason to pander to haggling in a retail industry where bargaining for a price is improper.
  • If handled correctly, you can turn a negative customer experience into a positive. With a good apology and a demonstration that your company listens, takes responsibility for problems, and acts on them you can end up with a more loyal customer.


  • Never sigh, even when a customer drives you to distraction. It is a sign of condescension that will really set off a customer who is prone to reacting. Sigh internally and keep a positive and serious attitude on the outside. Impress the customer with your willingness and your attention to detail.

Article Info

Categories: Customer Relations