Sunday, March 5, 2017

"Is The Customer Always Right, As We Have Been Told?"

We've always heard that the customer is always right. That's a strong statement - always? Is this true? Can we believe it? What about when they clearly are not right?

As aging in place professionals, this statement indeed is true, but not the way it may first appear. On the surface, this statement - this truism or maxim - seems to say that the customer gets to have their way, no matter what. If the customer wants something at a reduced price, we acquiesce. if they want a little more work done - while we're at it or since we're already there - we agree. If they don't like the way something is done, we redo it or otherwise accommodate them.

That's what this phrase seems to say, but is that what it really means? No, not really.

Of course, we want to have a great relationship with our clients and customers - as well as our strategic partners (those we work with to accomplish and complete our remodeling scenarios) and referring professionals (those who are in a position to bring work to us). We want them to respect and honor us, and we must do the same for them.

In fact, this is what this statement about the customer always being right truly means.

It suggests that we must honor our clients and customers and do what is their highest and best interests. It means that we should hold them in a higher regard that just doing what we want or think is necessary to make a sale. Can these two concepts co-exist? Sure.

Rather than just suggesting a home modification or improvement because we make a large margin by installing it, people generally like it, we think that it very often is called for, and it's easy for us to do, we need to look specifically at our clients and customers and make sure we are suggesting improvements and doing them for the right reasons.

It means that we put our clients and customers - and their needs, desires, interests, preferences, and budgets - above our own desire to have a profitable and successful business. If we have vetted our customers and clients and gotten to truly know them and what they need, then we likely are putting their interests above ours anyway. This is the point.

There likely will always be the itinerant handyman and contractor that are just out to make a quick dollar by doing some cursory renovations or minor construction for people without serious regard for what they really need - or by ignoring the health component that quite often factors into a design scenario. We need to reinforce how we are taking the total person and their needs into account before ever recommending a solution for them and that we really don't how much or how little work they need done as long as it falls within the general range of our business model. 

To recap, the customer is always right - not because they have an inside track on construction or renovation techniques (they don't) or because they want to run the show (they might) - because we are more concerned about helping them and addressing their needs than we are with selling the job or doing the work.

We will still get plenty of work this way because we will gain the reputation of being a caring aging in place professional.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit my website at stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.