The “Expert” – Part 2


This second post on working with experts looks at the customer that perhaps grossly over-estimates their knowledge, is mistaken or is just plain wrong.

Marshall Field supposedly said “The customer is always right.” This is a great way to proceed with your customers unless they are wrong.

In these situation, you can turn to Aleister Crowley and his less famous quote for guidance “The customer is usually wrong but statistics indicate that it doesn’t pay to tell him so.”  So, what do you do when the customer is wrong?  The key when working with pseudo-experts is to be patient, gentle and respectful.

Perhaps in this era of universal access to information and “alternative facts,” retailers should be ready to deal with incorrect information garnered from the internet or espoused by someone calling themselves an expert.  So I offer several tips for dealing with the mistaken expert.

  • Ask more clarifying questions to make sure that in fact the customer does have incorrect information.
  • Use clarifying questions to guide the customer to self-awareness.
  • Avoid saying “You are wrong’ or “You are mistaken.”
  • Arguing or one-upmanship will get you know where.
  • Ask them if they have heard about the “latest” or “recent” developments for the product and then talk about the current thinking.
  • Ask them for the source of their information and then offer an alternative source.
  • Use your own opinion.  Say something like “I am not aware of that.” or “I have not run across that in my work.” then continue with “That I know is…” or “In my experience.” or “What I know is this.”
  • Bring in third-party references to bolster you case.  Use buyers guides, POS information, testimonials, Yelp, blogs etc.

Use these simple tips and proceed with patience and diplomacy to turn the customers thinking around so that they are right.


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