Shep Hyken\'s Customer Service Blog

Don’t Just Fix the Problem. Fix the Customer

You Are Not Trying To WIn An ArgumentCustomer Service Training

There is an old customer service saying that has to do with whenever someone disagrees with a customer:

You’re not trying to win an argument. You’re trying to win a customer.

You really can’t win an argument with a customer. It’s not that the customer is always right. They aren’t.  If you’ve followed my work, you know that I believe the customer is not always right. So, how can you let them always win an argument? First, don’t get in the argument to begin with. Sure, you can win the argument, but you lose the customer. But, what you can always do is be respectful. You can let the customer keep their dignity. You can agree to disagree. You can work toward a mutually agreed upon solution. In short, you win the customer, not the argument.

This concept became even more evident to me as I sat in on a meeting with one of the top automotive manufacturers in the world, Lexus. They are known for great cars and incredible service. At one of their corporate meetings they had a roleplay exercise where some of their employees pretended to be unhappy customers and others pretended to be employees at a dealership. It was fascinating to watch great training come to life, as the employees representing the dealership managed the customer’s complaints with skill and tact.

One very clear message came out of the exercise. They were not just trying to just fix the car. They also wanted to fix the customer. They wanted to move the customer from unhappy to happy. From angry or disappointed to pleased. From frustrated to fulfilled.

At Lexus, they recognized that a broken car can also mean a broken customer. The challenge is to fix both.

Sometimes a customer is legitimately upset. For example, they may have brought their car in more than once to have the car serviced for the same problem. So, what will make them happy? Maybe the customer wants a refund for the repairs or a credit for a future repair. Or, maybe the customer doesn’t want any financial compensation. They just want their car fixed and taken care of by a service rep who truly cares, shows empathy (that one’s important) and apologizes for the inconvenience.

You don’t have to be in the car business to take advantage and learn from Lexus. Learn what will make the customer happy. It may be as simple as just asking. (You don’t know if you don’t ask.) It’s definitely not arguing with the customer. Find out what’s behind any frustration, disappointment, and even anger. Talking it through with the customer, rather than pointing blame or making excuses may be the simple solution. Yes, you may be in a situation that is more complicated than a car repair. Yet, however simple or difficult the situation is, don’t argue. You might win the argument, but you may lose the customer in the process. Look for the solution that is reasonable and is a win/win for both you and your customer.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXVI, Shep Hyken)



  1. Great post Shep!

    This is the ultimate test of a customer centric culture! Will the company fix the product and the customer? Usually they just focus on the product… ignoring the impact it may have on the customer.

    I am right in the middle of a similar situation with a car company, I am giving them a chance to do the right thing but it is not looking good…

    Lexus is a shining example and its focus on customer service is one of big the reasons it is doing so well globally and particularly in the US market.

    Keep up the great writing Shep, thanks


    • Hi Chris – Thanks for the kind words about the article. And, hope all works out with your car. You might want to make a copy of the article and share it with the car dealer. Good luck!

  2. Basically it happens that many customer take their car to a car mechanic and tell them to repair as quickly as possible with lower price even without understanding the problem and if mechanic tells that the car needs actually needs a costly repair then the customer starts to argue with the mechanic which I think is not the right way to with anyone. The main reason behind this situation is lack of awareness among the customers. Because if they inspect their car on a regular basis, then I am sure they will never going to face costly repairs and I think the mechanic should take some responsibility to convince the customer and create some kind of awareness among them regarding car maintenance. Well, I am sure that this will not only minimize car issue but also change the mindset of customer. Thank you.

    • This is really a matter of trust. The mechanic must build a relationship with the customer that creates trust and confidence. Without that, the customer will always be concerned about being overcharged.

  3. No doubt, doing repairs at the right time extends the longevity of the speed machine. But the fact is, many operatives are unaware of the significance of regular car care. So, apart from fixing the issues, a car mechanic needs to make the customer aware of the preventive measures that can prolong his intermediary’s lifespan. I know it is not an effortless job to accomplish. But if a car engineer does these things with passion and tenacity, then he can fix the problem and the mindset of the customer.

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