Is The Customer Always Right?

From: Ameen Kamadia

As a loan officer, you are in business for yourself, and one of the "rules" of business that we all have been told is that the customer is always right. The customer is king. No wait, cash is king, but without the customer, there is no cash.

So I ask you, what do you think? Is the customer always right no matter what?

My answer is an emphatic, HECK NO!

The reason we are in business is to earn a living. I don't know about you, but I want to do this in as easy a manner as possible. This means not taking on unnecessary stress. The #1 cause of stress in our business is the customer. It's that way in all businesses.

Does this mean we totally ignore the customer and treat them badly? No way. They are, after all, the reason we are still in business. But it does mean we can place limits on what we will tolerate and what we will not.

I have been known to throw people out of my office for mentioning that they could get better rates at another mortgage company. Now, I have never grabbed anyone by the collar and physically thrown them out. What I do is stand up, stick out my hand for a handshake, and say, "In that case, I thank you for coming by, but I suggest you go to the other place. Now let me walk you to the door." It usually takes them a full 30 seconds to understand that I am throwing them out. Most people apologize and never mention rates again. Some of them leave, which is fine.

After you have been in this business for a while, you get a feeling. A sixth sense can tell you when someone is going to be a pain throughout the process. You can almost tell by the way they act in the first interview.

But many times the problem lies in different expectations. We expect to offer one service, and the customer expects something else. We might not expect a customer to call at 7pm Sunday night. But to him, it might be normal.

The best way to handle this is to create a list of expectations ahead of time. Tell the customer verbally and in writing what you will provide, and what he can do to contact you. Also, make sure your systems are set up to send out regular updates to him. This greatly minimizes phone calls.

If you get only one thing from this issue, get this: You do not have to work with everyone, nor should you. Create a target customer profile. Then target only those customers that fit your profile. Do not try to appease everyone. They will still get mad, and you will lose out in the end. This goes for customers, Realtors, title reps, lenders, and every other vendor in your life. If the relationship is not pleasant, find a way to fix it quick or end it. Life is too short and blood pressure rises too easily to deal with unpleasant people.

I'll give you another example from Kamrock. Recently we had a fellow get mad at us because we would not sell him any more of our products. We track every customer and know what they have ordered and when. That's just good business. This fellow seemed to order things one by one, and then return them one by one.

I can understand if you order one item, and if it is not for you, you send it back. I can even understand that you order twice and send it back, but that does put you on the watch list. But not three or more times. If you order from us three times and send it back each time, there is something fishy going on here. After the first couple of times, you already know what we are about, and have decided if our stuff fits with you or not.

This is my personal feeling and I may be wrong, but I wouldn't bet on it.

This guy got mad that we refused to send out his order and refunded his money. He wrote us a nasty email about how we don't know what customer service is and "the customer is always right". That got me thinking. We lose money on every return, so on this fellow, we have only lost money. If I let him "be right" and keep doing whatever he wanted, I would keep losing money, and that is not something I enjoy.

I wanted to see if this applied to the mortgage business as well. So I started going through my past loan files. On the people who were the most difficult to work with, I earned the lowest amount per hour. I spent more time on their files, on average, for less money. The time that I spent with them could have been spent on my better clients who should have gotten the time, or with my family, or doing something I enjoy.

So by working with nasty people,

a. we lose money

b. we steal time from our better clients, our families, and ourselves

c. we get upset, and in a few cases, get sick.

So let me ask you again. Is the customer always right? Let's say it together:


Happy Originating!




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No the customer is not always right. They are paying, sure, so they use the old adage the customer is always right. This has never been farther from the truth.

Posted by Carol Durr on 11/08/2007 20:51:24

For many years I owned a mobile music company. I learned early on that the line "the customer is always right", is just some way for a "dimer" to pay less money.

Posted by Jim Smith on 12/11/2007 22:30:30

Everything stated here is exactly what I believe in. I feel more confident now that you have confirmed my thoughts about customers who are nasty. This was a great article!!! Thank You Ameen

Posted by Amor Emmite on 08/29/2008 22:26:42