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Thread: The customer is always right!

  1. #1
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    Wave The customer is always right!

    We had a real jerk come in today and when one of the opticians went to answer the phone he through a fit and started yelling. He called our owner and told him that the optician was on his cell phone on a personal phone call for 15 minutes. He was on the office phone for just a few minutes actually. We told him he could just take his RX and go somewhere else. Our owner took up for us and told him to hit the road. I was wondering if your bosses allows you to refuse to serve someone like that or is the customer always right? I'd like to hear your stories of people you refused if you are able to.

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    The customer is usually right... until it involves demeaning a staff member. Weather it's yelling, threats etc. When I was managing for Sears, one of my staff came to me in tears one day. Apparently this man had came in, while I was at lunch, lenses scratched, and freaked out at her for explaining about the Co-pay warranty. Now, I had previously told all the staff that if someone made that much of a fuss, to just give it to them, but before she could do that, he started to rip into her. He didn't even give her the chance to call my cell, and only after he left could she call me back. She had told him I'd be back soon, and sure enough, he returned, head still full of steam. The second he got back, he started to rip into me as well. Now, I'm quite a large person, about 6'7", 300lbs, but this man was just furious. I literally had to shout over him to get his attention. Asked him to calm down... and then the name calling started. The minute he called my staff member a *****, I knew we weren't calming him down. At that point I was blunt. Get out. Now. He bellowed some more, wanting to see the store manager. I said no. Again told him to get out, or I'd have to call security. That seemed to calm him down enough to atleast get him out of the door.

    Now, this was a very unique situation, and people usually aren't this extreme... that being said, I don't put up with it at all anymore. The minute someone raises their voice to me, I give them two chances, I ask them to calm down, and if they don't, I ask them to leave. No sale is worth that. No CUSTOMER is worth that.

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    If a customer threatens an associate physically, we call Sears security. Otherwise, we've been told to handle the situation to the customer's satisfaction (meaning we take the verbal abuse until we can get a word in). A fellow associate told me that we can't afford to offend anyone, we have to make sure all customers are happy, and we have to do whatever the customer wants. So, basically, we've been told to bend over and grease up.

    Case in point: woman brought her 2-year old frame in for replacement after her half-ton butt sat on and broke it. When I told her the frame cost, she went ballistic. Threatened to call the "head of Sears" because she felt the frame was defective, even though she admitted to breaking it. My RM was in the office that day and told me to give her a new frame at no cost. It's not the first time he's done that to me (and my store's profit). Love the way the RM undermined any authority I might have imagined I had.

    Now, what do you think this woman is going to do when she gets home? She'll be spreading the word that Sears Optical will do anything for you if you raise a big stink. Big Stink - Sears Optical; synonymous, isn't it?

    So, in my situation the customer is always right and I cannot refuse service to anyone unless they physically threaten me.

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    Redhot Jumper Big Stink - Sears Optical; synonymous, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by dorry View Post
    My RM was in the office that day and told me to give her a new frame at no cost. It's not the first time he's done that to me (and my store's profit). Love the way the RM undermined any authority I might have imagined I had.
    Maybe you work on commission, profit participation ???

    If that is the case I would say that you might be too greedy to make no charge replacements because it affects your personal pocket. :bbg:
    Chris Ryser
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  5. #5
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    This used to be my old signature line:

    The man who coined the phrase "the customer is always right" was only interested in profits, and not the truth!

    FWIW

    Barry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser View Post
    Maybe you work on commission, profit participation ???

    If that is the case I would say that you might be too greedy to make no charge replacements because it affects your personal pocket. :bbg:
    I wish. My only commission is per complete set sale but only when I make plan (which is pretty much impossible). My profit affects whether or not I'm invited to stay employed month to month.

    In addition, according to corporate there is no warranty past 90 days. In a memo from the big dogs, any frame or lens defects will be apparent within 3 months of purchase. Anything beyond that will be the customer's responsiblity.

    I fully agree with bending the rules in certain situations, but a 2-year old frame that a customer admits to breaking ain't one of them. This customer did not want to take responsibility for her own actions. That's the part that really gets under my skin.

  7. #7
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    The customer is NOT always right. That is an adage from a day that will never return. That saying was wrought at a time when strangers were civil to strangers and respect for self and others was commonplace. Now days, disrespect is almost expected. It makes serving the public fatiguing.

    It's so hard to size up an individual and know if they are dealing with you honestly. Often it is only when push comes to shove will an individual's true intentions be known. In defense of an unwary public, there are all too many retailers that mistreat their clients. It has been a rude awakening for many a respectful citizen to be taken to the cleaners by retailers who lacked all integrity.

    We try to treat everyone equally and honestly and give them an opportunity to resolve issues equitably. When patients mistreat us and leave our staff reeling with discomfort, we slow down and limit our service to only what is necessary to quell the situation. We stop turning the other cheek, we don't offer extras to them and we will eventually refuse service if the offense continues.

    The "squeaky wheels" (boisterous and insolent patients) should not be given more attention. They should be replaced. When a patient is absolutely irreverent, there is no place for them in an honest, caring and generous environment. We'd rather save our time for those that demonstrate respect. It makes the occupation much more rewarding.

    Let the 'dog eat dog' businesspeople and cutthroat managers court the lousy clients, giving them anything and everything they demand. They'll always find it costlier in the long run.

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    Stick out tongue Easy on the snide comments!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Ryser View Post
    Maybe you work on commission, profit participation ???

    If that is the case I would say that you might be too greedy to make no charge replacements because it affects your personal pocket. :bbg:
    Chris,
    Please refrain from personal attacks; it is unprofessional and degrading to those who ask questions. You made a character attack and had no idea what the situation was and waited for the person to defend themselves.
    You are too smart to be so snide with people. :hammer:

    The real point the writer was trying to make was that his/her authority was threatened and it was not a greed issue, but a chain of command issue.

    Craig

  9. #9
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    crazy cooks always find a way.

    I worked for a short time at a chain before opening my store. At the chain, we were told that simply we have to take the abuse and make sure the customer is happy.
    At my own store however, I simply hand the rx or frame back to the customer and tell them to leave.
    Very recently had a women on social assistance come in with her forms and wanted a pair gucci glasses in a progressive all for what the ministry covered (about$180.00). Told her it wasn't possible with that type of frame. She went on a rant about how I am treating her like a second-class citizen and that i should respect her more. Thought to myself for a minute, I can sell her something differrent and try to make money or I can tell her to go somewhere else. chose the latter option and was happy to get rid of her.

    Anytime you work for yourself, (or a chain) the best thing you can do is minimize your potential headaches. It is about the money, but the money sometimes isn't worth it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dorry View Post
    If a customer threatens an associate physically, we call Sears security. Otherwise, we've been told to handle the situation to the customer's satisfaction (meaning we take the verbal abuse until we can get a word in). A fellow associate told me that we can't afford to offend anyone, we have to make sure all customers are happy, and we have to do whatever the customer wants. So, basically, we've been told to bend over and grease up.

    Case in point: woman brought her 2-year old frame in for replacement after her half-ton butt sat on and broke it. When I told her the frame cost, she went ballistic. Threatened to call the "head of Sears" because she felt the frame was defective, even though she admitted to breaking it. My RM was in the office that day and told me to give her a new frame at no cost. It's not the first time he's done that to me (and my store's profit). Love the way the RM undermined any authority I might have imagined I had.

    Now, what do you think this woman is going to do when she gets home? She'll be spreading the word that Sears Optical will do anything for you if you raise a big stink. Big Stink - Sears Optical; synonymous, isn't it?

    So, in my situation the customer is always right and I cannot refuse service to anyone unless they physically threaten me.
    Thats no ok!! At any point regardless of what happens to me, I don't have to take verbal abuse. I get to the point where you can get heated yes, but to at all call me names or curse at me I shut down. I had a lady who was so upset the other day because I helped a woman who had been waiting a half an hour who had a really quick contact lens reorder, and this other lady thought that I had taken someone before her. Lady 2 blew up on me and started getting all upset and raising her voice. This was all fine and dandy and she started with name calling and cussing at me. I told her "I'm done here, and you can wait for someone else to show up before being helped" As I knew it would happen she got another store manager and that person had to mediate between us. (In costco, nobody has a clue as to anything in optical so it gives us a little edge sometimes) The manager knew that there was nothing that he could do so he asked me what happened. I explained in front of the woman how she treated me and when she looked back at how she acted she felt like an idiot. She hasn't been back and hopefully she never will. People need to learn a little respect for others especially in a smaller town like where i'm from.

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    Remember the phrase "The customer is always right is based on the golden rule." The version that reads: "He who has the gold rules."
    The customer is always right if he has the gold to pay for it. The idea of personal ethics and integrity is only very important to the very young who haven't learned any better.
    Welcome to retail.
    I remember an episode of "Ben Casey" where one of the residents was concidering saying :"to Hell with it." And going into retail. Dr. Zorba too them both to a very fine resturant where the propritor had quit medical school and went into the resturant. The owner joined them and told the resident not to drop out unless he liked to smile. He went on to explain that in the resturant business you had to smile all the time and seem overjoyed at the most outrageous requests and complaints.
    The resident re-concidered.
    We are in the resturant business. Go to med school if you want to be "House."

    Chip

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    Referring back to an occurrence I had some years back. A “customer” yelling for a good 15, actual 15 minutes, finally came back with “the customer is always right”. My response was that I don’t work with customers I work with patients. When asked what was the difference I responded with, A customer always thinks they are right, but a patient asks questions because they are not 100% sure of why something is “just not right”.

    As for verbal abuse, I don’t care who I work for I will not be subject to anyone’s rudeness and vulgarity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chip anderson View Post
    The idea of personal ethics and integrity is only very important to the very young who haven't learned any better.
    I'm 50 and still haven't learned that lesson. I doubt I'll understand your theory when I'm 80.

  14. #14
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    A better way to think about it is not to approach the people as "customers", and instead refer to the people as "patients".

    "Patients" are not always right....

  15. #15
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    Redhot Jumper I'm sorry. . . . .

    that you found yourself in that situation. Its a lousy place to be, especially if you have bills that need to be paid. You don't have to take it though. If you're an employee simply tag out. "I'm sorry about that sir, but if you'll leave me your number and the best time to be called, I'll make sure the GM calls you within the next 48 hours. Other than that, you've got to go. Please don't make me call the police." If you're an owner then you've got to figure out what your own bail out point is. I actually told a guy that I didn't make enough to take his crap. He needed to talk to somebody that cared. Fortunately the Dr thought it was funny.

    If there was a guy working there when this happened and he didn't step up then shame on him. People have the right to be upset but they don't have the right to be mean. You have a right to your personal space without feeling threatened. :finger:
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    Many years ago I had a customer call up where I was working and raising hell about a past due bill. He was quite abusive, cussed a lot, I hung up on him. I told the boss about this this and how my dignity wouldn't allow me to tolerate such abuse. The boss said: "If you can't handle this sort of thing, refer them to me. But if you don't handle them, or refer them to me, you're fired." I didn't understand then, I do now.
    I charge patients who don't give me the dignity of calling for an appointment twice as much. Those that call every five minites for days wanting to know "is it ready yet?" Pay through the nose. Those that are ugly to me pay even more.
    Those that leave the practice and then come back to me hat in hand to get contact lens fitting and service that others have tried and failed at pay a full fitting fee again, instead of replacement costs and pay for every little thing I do (Usually, I do a lot for free.). Anyone that leaves twice doesn't get back in the door. I really don't care what I am called, and don't react to threats. I move slower when someone attempts to prod me to go faster. No one, no matter how important they think they are gets moved ahead of someone else, but they pay for trying.
    But I let cash be my appology now. I never raise my voice ,threaten, or let myself actually feel intimidated. After all a threat is only a threat if you fear someone or something, I only admit to fearing God.
    Those that have seen me move when I step on a snake doubt this.

    Chip

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    Quote Originally Posted by chip anderson View Post
    Remember the phrase "The customer is always right is based on the golden rule." The version that reads: "He who has the gold rules."
    The customer is always right if he has the gold to pay for it. The idea of personal ethics and integrity is only very important to the very young who haven't learned any better.
    The customer only makes my job if I make money on him. Where I work, we have a total profit margin of around 14% or so. When customer comes back in and for a reason with no real validity, I can definitely refuse it because we instantly lose any profit with a ridiculous redo. We definitely try to do our best on things, as we are somewhat of a loss leader for our chain, but I'd rather send somebody like this elsewhere than to have them lose us money each and every time they come in.

  18. #18
    Just An Optician jediron1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdmiralKnight View Post
    The customer is usually right... until it involves demeaning a staff member. Weather it's yelling, threats etc. When I was managing for Sears, one of my staff came to me in tears one day. Apparently this man had came in, while I was at lunch, lenses scratched, and freaked out at her for explaining about the Co-pay warranty. Now, I had previously told all the staff that if someone made that much of a fuss, to just give it to them, but before she could do that, he started to rip into her. He didn't even give her the chance to call my cell, and only after he left could she call me back. She had told him I'd be back soon, and sure enough, he returned, head still full of steam. The second he got back, he started to rip into me as well. Now, I'm quite a large person, about 6'7", 300lbs, but this man was just furious. I literally had to shout over him to get his attention. Asked him to calm down... and then the name calling started. The minute he called my staff member a *****, I knew we weren't calming him down. At that point I was blunt. Get out. Now. He bellowed some more, wanting to see the store manager. I said no. Again told him to get out, or I'd have to call security. That seemed to calm him down enough to atleast get him out of the door.

    Now, this was a very unique situation, and people usually aren't this extreme... that being said, I don't put up with it at all anymore. The minute someone raises their voice to me, I give them two chances, I ask them to calm down, and if they don't, I ask them to leave. No sale is worth that. No CUSTOMER is worth that.


    I agree with AK. I have had a few people come in using choice words (f__c_ ) and I tell them straight out if you can't speak in a civilized manor then I will have to ask you to leave. Most will become very agreeable after, while one or two won't. I actually threw one guy out because he kept his tantrum going over a measly adjustment. :bbg:

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorry View Post
    <snip> My RM was in the office that day and told me to give her a new frame at no cost. It's not the first time he's done that to me (and my store's profit). Love the way the RM undermined any authority I might have imagined I had.

    Now, what do you think this woman is going to do when she gets home? She'll be spreading the word that Sears Optical will do anything for you if you raise a big stink. Big Stink - Sears Optical; synonymous, isn't it?

    So, in my situation the customer is always right and I cannot refuse service to anyone unless they physically threaten me.
    That's pretty much how it works in Luxworld with all brands. Any complaint that goes to the RM is going to result in an apology and free product, regardless of how wrong the patient is or how badly they acted. It's also going to result in the RM being ****** at the person who let a complaint escalate up to their level in the first place, so we basically have to smile and suck it up, come what may.

    I can't stand seeing people being rewarded for behaving badly. It only leads to more bad behavior and more of an attitude of entitlement from people who should be entitled to nothing more than a swift kick to the nether regions.

  20. #20
    Master OptiBoarder ziggy's Avatar
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    There are 2 sayings that I like, "The customer is seldom right,, but they are still the customer" and the other is " There is an income to Bull Sh** ratio, when the BS out weighs the income its time to change something".
    Paul:cheers:

  21. #21
    ATO Member HarryChiling's Avatar
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    Our office is located in the USA and as such we take our coutries policies to heart:

    "We don't neogitate with terrorists!"

    1. Often give a warning; "Ma'am/Sir if you could please lower your voice and explaint eh situation to me I am sure we can find a solution that you would be happy with".
    2. If that doesn't work I will take on their tone of voice; "SIR, PLEASE I AM GOING TO HAVE TO ASK YOU TO CALM DOWN."
    3. If they continue to elevate teh situation they get there final warning; "Sir/Ma'am, I will not ask you to lower your voice in our office agian, if we can not communicate in a civil manner I will be forced to ask you to leave."
    After strike 3 often they lower their voice and we can come to a conclusion, but if they start to escalate, I ask them to leave, give them a business card and tell them they are more than welcome to come back to the office if they can behave themselves. If they come back again and create a scene, I call our management company and ask for "NORA" key word for security please. Some steps to help alleviate collateral damage:

    • Escort them to a more private area of the office (eg. break room, office, lab) It empowers you by putting them in an enviornment that is foreign to them and puts you in an envoirnment that is comfortable to you. Takes them away from patients which can fuel them to make a bigger scene.
    • Rephrase and Respond with apathy; "Sir/Ma'am, if I understand this correctly you feel as though we made the glasses wrong, I could understand how that could make you feel upset."
    • Mirror the patient; don't mimic but use some of there accents or cues in response. Patients feel more comfortable dealing with people that are more like them.
    • The hand off; some people just need to get past the gate keeper or lowly optician. Grab someone else and put on the dog and pony show. I have an optician that does our contact lens stuff that I will often call and she comes out and immediately asks me to get back to work in the lab and questions what I was doing on the floor in the first place; (she asserts her dominance off the break), patients become a lot more docile with her even though she's a teddy bear. It's all an act and I would rather get scoulded by her and laugh at it later then abused by the patient.
    Some things I see observing other opticians in the office when dealing with situations:
    • The optician shuts down and doesn't listen.
    • Tries to address what they interpret as the problem (not the patients real issue)
    • Agravates the situation by being defensive towards the patient.
    Some of the problems I see when observing the patient's when dealign with situations:
    • Assumption that the opticians have created the issue on purpose in retaliation for partients previous behavior.
    • Not knowing how to vocalize their issues and effectively communicate.
    • Lack of manners.
    • Lack of respect.
    • Not wanting to be helped (some patients just want to moan and groan, nothing to do with the service or the glasses, opticiasn just seem to always listen when others ignore)
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    I always wanted to try:

    Are you seeing anyone about that hypertension? It'll kill you, you know.

    Does your liver feel better now?

    I'm sorry you feel that way. But, in truth I really don't give a ......

    Does your mother know you act like this?

    What makes you more important than all these other people?


    More to come, Chip

  23. #23
    ATO Member HarryChiling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chip anderson View Post
    Are you seeing anyone about that hypertension? It'll kill you, you know.

    Does your liver feel better now?

    I'm sorry you feel that way. But, in truth I really don't give a ......

    Does your mother know you act like this?

    What makes you more important than all these other people?


    More to come, Chip
    LOL. :cheers:
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    Quote Originally Posted by opti-refractonator View Post
    Very recently had a women on social assistance come in with her forms and wanted a pair gucci glasses in a progressive all for what the ministry covered (about$180.00). Told her it wasn't possible with that type of frame. She went on a rant about how I am treating her like a second-class citizen and that i should respect her more.
    Side question: Does Ontario expect you to submit a claim for the patients on social assistance or is that the patient's responsibility?

  25. #25
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    Tole her when you gits to where you can pay your own bills you can move up to first class.

    Chip

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