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It’s the Customer’s Fault
By: Janet Kalandranis
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The saying goes that “the customer is always right,” which seems pretty straightforward. Brands go above and beyond to make sure customers are the number-one priority. It’s been like that for years and seems as though it should continue like that for years to come. But what happens when the tables are turned and a brand decides that something is the customer’s fault? Is this even possible? The answer, shockingly, is yes.

There are a couple of ways a brand can handle a customer situation that affects a group of its own. Many times brands decide to be open and honest, talk about the issue, and identify its plan to make things right and the customer whole again. The most famous example is Tylenol back in 1982, when it had to recall all of its bottles of medicine. As soon as Tylenol identified that there was tampering with the bottles prior to hitting shelves, it did the only reputable thing and pulled its entire product (yes, all of it) off the shelves. Money down the drain, but to this day the brand is nothing but respected for the way it handled a very sensitive situation.

Fast forward to 2012 to a situation that is much less sensitive, but still involves customer angst. A glitch on the ever-popular Facebook led customers to complain to the company. Forgetting to protect its brand, Facebook announced that the issue was due to customer confusion in some changes that were made to the interface. The lesson here is two-fold: don’t blame the customer, and if customers can’t figure it out, there’s probably some re-thinking that needs to be done.

Successful brands put customers first and listen to them. Brands don’t want to be known for saying, "It was the customer’s fault," but instead for making things right and admitting when there was a mistake. It can be as big as something dangerous to the customer or as small as being a minor annoyance in their day. The most important lesson is for brands to listen to customers, address concerns, and make it easier for a customer to smile at the end of the day.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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