No one is right all the time. However, your operating principle does need to center on the customer. And, for your purposes the customer is always right. Every successful business owner makes decisions based upon the perception of what customers want. To be successful, you have to offer the right products, at the right prices and offer merchandise when and where customers want it.

The customer’s point of view is the viewpoint you need to see. Your decisions should reflect sensitivity to the customer. Customers recognize good merchandise, convenient locations and quality customer service. It’s up to you to create that shopping environment for your customers.

Now that your have an operating principle, you have to decide how to apply it to customer complaints. No mater how good your product or service, customers may have difficulties or complaints. Try to view complaints as positive input for improvements. A properly treated customer complaint can change a dissatisfied customer into a satisfied customer. It takes patience, diplomacy and an honest willingness to meet the customer half way to effectively resolve customer disputes. Develop a written customer service policy to help you cope with consumer complaints. Also consider the following five tips:

Listen to each complaint and consider it seriously. Never mind how foolish it may sound to you, most people will not complain unless they feel they have a legitimate grievance.

Try to take the customer’s point of view. If you were in the customer’s place, how would you feel? Would you feel upset or angry if the incident happened to you?

If investigation is necessary, do it while the customer is present.

If investigation shows that the customer is right, admit it at once. Apologize and offer to make amends then and there. An open and honest response brings you from conflict to common ground.

Should the complaint turn out to be baseless, try to let the customer save face. Offer that the feedback has helped you evaluate and improve your service.

If you would like to discuss customer-focused selling customer service policies or dispute resolution, contact the SCORE Association 912-652-4335 or