Leader comment: Customer is always right (even when wrong)

Shoppers can't be taken for granted if retailers want them to make return visits.

Shoppers can't be taken for granted if retailers want them to make return visits.

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Since the first shop was opened on the first high street, the guiding principle for those trying to make the best of their business has been to remember that the customer is always right. Of course, the customer is often completely wrong, but pointing that out is unlikely to encourage repeat visits.

With that in mind, it is baffling that any shops, from the corner of the street to multi-national retailers, can deliver bad service. But in a survey we publish today, consumers make it clear they are very unhappy with treatment by certain retailers.

It is apparent that some have a long way to go to reach the level they should be at, and fall down on basic levels of service. They should, in fact, be taking customer service to a further level: satisfactorily resolving matters which go wrong.

No-one expects 100 per cent perfection every time, but good service should not just be about getting it right first time. A customer who knows a problem will be taken seriously, and fixed, is a happy shopper, who will come back. Simple. But for some retailers, this common sense strategy remains a mystery – for which they pay a price.

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