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  • Peggy Amelung

Is the customer king, partner or friend? How do you become the king of the customer experience?

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

It can no longer be overlooked. More and more people are saying that the customer is no longer king. Pros and cons of the customer-is-king argument and also about the dangers in dealing directly with the customer when we say the customer is no longer king - read more.


Ist der Kunde noch König?

It can no longer be overlooked. More and more people are saying that the customer is no longer king. Pros and cons of the customer-is-king argument and also about the dangers in dealing directly with the customer when we say the customer is no longer king - that's what it's all about.

Is it that we, the court jesters, are supposed to be subservient to every wish of the customers, no matter how absurd? Are we to be the plaything of those customers who are boorishly out of line without respect and boundaries? And if now those of you say: "And yet. The customer must be knocked off his throne. After all, we need eye level. Equality. Cooperation instead of service. Ah yes?

Then I also hear the formulations in the same place: The customer is a profitable partner. The customer is the master of the company, who decides on its life and death. The customer pays. Let's not fool ourselves.

The customer is king or queen.

That is the reality.

Aber wie stelle ich nun Augenhöhe her?

After all, we no longer live in the 18th century. In times of absolute monarchy.

Yes, at Ritz-Carlton, the premium hotel chain of the same name, the guest is the absolute number 1, everything is done to fulfill wishes and cater to very individual needs 24/7 - and the chain is also known for this.

BUT - and here comes the but - there are clear limits. And these are even laid down in the company philosophy:

"Ladies & Gentlemen are serving Ladies & Gentlemen. "

This motto of Ritz Carlton clearly expresses: We value eye level, respect and togetherness. We do everything for our guests.

Strong brands communicate at eye level. Yes. The customer is the linchpin.

It's not about being right, about up and down, about silently taking orders, about king or servant, but about professional service, feedback and customer experience culture.

A strong brand positions itself and is allowed to differentiate itself to the customer?

But sure. Let's take the example of Apple, where these boundaries are even anchored in writing in the brand DNA.

We believe in saying NO to thousands of projects - so we can really focus on the few that really matter and are important to us.

And yet, it's all about the customer. And at Amazon, the customer is not only king and queen, but emperor and empress and pope right on top.

Does that mean I can say no to my customer?

No. For the simple reason: none of us likes to hear no.

No, we don't have that.

No, that's not available.

No, that's sold out.

No, you can't get in here without a Corona test.

So, how does that sound to you? Pleasant, benevolent, blissful?

What I can give you from the premium luxury world: The art of how to properly say NO has to be learned.

It's always about alternatives, about offers, about variety according to the customer's needs, and about not knocking the customer on the head with a brutal NO.

And even when dealing with Corona: Kings, queens, government leaders, customers, adults and even children - we all have to wear masks at the moment. There is little room for maneuver.

In one hotel group, there are so-called Corona referees. They walk through the facilities with red, yellow, green signs and hand out warnings. Depending on that, red or yellow, and if you have good Corona behavior, you get the green card. Does this have anything to do with customer experience? No? Are we thinking of the customer in what role here?

For me, it falls under the heading: That's a no-go! You don't treat anyone like that, neither royally nor in the sense of hospitality.

If you want to know how to communicate even Corona rules charmingly but emphatically so that it goes down well with your customers, write me a personal message, at the point.

On the topic of brand and the role of customers, here's another example from my work:

There is uncertainty. King. Partner. Friend. Which is it?

The mistake is often made of asking employees how they like to see themselves and be treated as customers.

And this is where the ship starts to wobble. Why? Because here, with 50 employees, we get 50 different views. Each has a different customer behavior. One is quiet, shops according to a shopping list, never says if something doesn't suit him, shuns communication. The other one always wants a conversation, extensive advice, the special role with the very big appearance.

If we go after all of them, our own brand message gets lost.

Clearly define the role of your customers. Clarity on that point creates success. Yes, think it over for yourselves.

What then are the fears of entrepreneurs who so vehemently resist this "the customer is king"?

For example, that too many concessions are made on the part of employees in the case of nagging customers? We all know them: ... How do think to compensate me - in the early morning in the hotel lobby in the case, for example, when the water came out of the shower cold for 5 minutes. This is a very familiar phrase from the hotel industry.

The danger of a partnership role model is that in case of doubt - this can be a complaint, a contract change or an additional request - it is not clear who has to make the move at the decisive moment. Your employees lack orientation in direct customer contact. When do I have to give in, when do I have to offer an alternative or what solution do I have to offer? Or does the customer now have to bite the bullet I throw him?

False restraint can quickly be interpreted as arrogance. And the opportunity to create customer loyalty is thus lost.

In both B2B and B2C, the customer expects to be treated as such. Preferred. In this case, good processes, structures and a sound complaint management system help.

I would advise an attitude there, in American they say Be My Guest and in German-speaking countries there is the term of hospitality Profitable Partner - that sounds to me as little like a solution as cuddling with friends.

The customer is king without a crown, but with a scepter in his hand.

That's the way it is. Whether it's serving, serving or earning. Just let go.

Customer Experience always has something to do with dedication at its core. With giving. Be my guest. Taking it a step further. It's allowed to be altruistic. We don't want to educate anyone, certainly not our customers.

The thought that just because I do something good for someone else, perhaps once more than he does for me, I am subservient, is wrong. We are allowed to take a step back, also in our dealings with each other. Degrading the customer from king to field worker now, just so that we feel better - the calculation will not work out.

After all, it's all about giving them unique experiences, earning their trust, communicating openly and thus connecting with customers in the long term.

In doing so, we must not let a pearl fall from our crown.

We want to be the kings of customer experience, don't we? ________________________________________________________________________


A company stands and falls with the satisfaction of your customers, make that clear to yourself. The crown is gone, but they have the scepter in their hands. Define the role of your customers in the company and don't leave it to chance. Brand definition and limitation are important, but also the art of saying no and how you meet the customer. Adapt to each generation in the way you communicate that. It doesn't matter if it's Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y or Z with their quick brand jumps:

The phrase "I felt like a king or queen" evokes emotions, feelings of happiness and creates beautiful images in all generations.

Noble title has served its time, but as a synonym for unique experiences, excellent service and Supreme Feelings - it still stands for today.


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