Barefoot Technologies Blog- Vacation Rental Industry News

Is the Customer Always Right?

Posted by Mike Todd on Feb 16, 2017 11:40:01 AM

160201_drevil_quotes_alwaysright.jpgWe all know the saying, “The Customer is always right”.  We also know that this is not always true, and being vacation rental and/or property managers I am not sure of another industry that puts you and your staff more to the test with this age old saying.  Not only are you facing this expectation from paying guests but there is also the double whammy of working with owners who can become just as challenging as a difficult and demanding guest.  I wanted to highlight a few areas to think about when evaluating the types of customers and owners you all have the choice of working with. 

  1. The “Customer is Always Right” makes for unhappy employees.   “My Vacation Rental was not ready by 4:00 and I demand that I get a 50% off my entire stay”.  I am not sure how true of a scenario this is, but we all have heard of unreasonable demands that people make.  I am also sure all property managers have put into place contingency plans for their employees on how to work with irate customers.  If you put yourself in the customers shoes you can empathize with their challenge.  Maybe they had delay after delay on the plane to get there or they lost some luggage and it culminates with learning that their home is not going to be ready for another hour because it is the busiest week of the year and you just lost two of your Housekeeping staff.  That does not matter to the customer, but it certainly does not give them the right to be abusive or unreasonable toward your staff.  Giving the guest the upper hand with “The customer is always right” really undermines your staff in making great decisions and confidence in when they can draw the line on a guest or owner.  Sure you want them to really care and offer amazing service, but sometimes a customer or owner cannot be reached.  What is more important losing a handful of customers or owners or empowering your staff who work with great clients and owners on a daily basis.  Your employees are human as well and should not be treated as servants. 

  2. Unreasonable customers know they can take advantage of you. “The squeaky wheel always gets the oil.”  We all have heard that adage, haven’t we?  If you are taking the approach that the customer is always right, then this type of customer will certainly take advantage of you.  There are many stories or we all have most likely seen people yelling at some poor agent or staff member because they did not receive something minor or were inconvenienced in the slightest way.  They may even demand some sort of compensation for their “inconvenience”.  I guess the direction I would like to focus this point is toward the guest that does not cause a scene when they are slightly inconvenienced.  Or the owner that always works with you to make sure their property is as marketable as it can be.  This type of customer or owner will work with you and show understanding that mistakes can happen.  Those are the customers/owners to focus on and treat like royalty.

  3. Some customers/owners are not good for business. It is common to think that in order to grow you need more customers and more owners.  This is true to an extent, but isn’t it more important to have the right customers and the right owners?  Think of the time and resources put into trying to satisfy truly unreasonable customers or owners.  If they go against your basic policies and rules do not accept them or don’t hesitate to “fire” them.  There is no way to vet everyone ahead of time, but as you build your business and learn to recognize certain warning signs about troublesome customers and owners you and your empowered employees will make better choices on who you do business with.  It also sends a message to your employees that you believe in them and that they need to meet the same expectations that you have for your customers and owners. 

  4. Customer Service Suffers. If your business is constantly siding or going against policy to pacify or appease an unreasonable customer it sends the message that your employees are not valued, or it is not as important to treat employees fairly, customers do not have to respect employees, and employees have to put up with everything a customer throws at them.  If this happens employees will most likely stop caring about service. 

  5. Some customers are wrong. There are customers that feel that no matter the circumstance that they should get their way.  Think about the policies that you have put in place to protect your business and the properties that you are responsible for.  If they are in violation or become unreasonable you must hold true to what is right and backed up by your policies.  To take it a step further think of your employees.  As stated earlier they are the most important aspect of your business.  If you empower them and back them up, you will have happy and confident employees that will do the right thing.  Knowing that you have their back so to speak is the best way to create loyalty. 

We are in the service industry and in order for a successful VR businesses to thrive it must do everything it can to stand out from competition and help a guest create an amazing experience.  A major part of this equation is offering exceptional customer service.  If a VR company does this successfully many times the company will be rewarded with a favorable review and a lifetime guest.  However, there is the challenge of an unhappy customer or owner.  Most companies will have a plan in place or employees have been trained on how to do what they can to make that guest happy.  There are limits though, and a company needs to be sure to recognize when to draw the line and make sure that they are backing their employees when needed.