‘The Customer Is Always Right’- Fact Or Illusion?


“The Customer Is Always Right” 

Its one of the more popular and repeated quotes from the world of business and on first thought, there is a lot of truth in the saying, but if you think about the long term picture, it might not necessarily hold true all the time. 

The trick is to recognize the hard-core ethics that businesses live by- the customers are always right and they can never do wrong. By merely falling back on a nice pithy phrase "The customer is always right," businesses can end up missing out on the core message- when the customers are actually right and when the demands are unreasonable. 

Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of the Selfridge department store, coined this phrase in 1909, to ensure that his employees are endeavoring to provide good customer service. But, in today’s business world, this phrase should be abandoned once and for all, since it is leading to some of the worst customer service practices worldwide. Here, we discuss a few reasons why “the customer is always right” is not necessarily relevant in today’s business landscape. 

It Enhances Your Employee’s Resentment Levels 

The phrase “The customer is always right” can create conflict between the employees of an organisation and unruly customers, as it creates an impression that the business will always prioritize customer satisfaction over employee happiness. There is no business without your employees and consistently siding with your customers (especially the unruly ones) will affect employee moral tremendously. 

Just because customers pay to avail some services, does not mean they have the liberty to abuse employees. Out of 10 complaints that businesses receive, one or two of those come from customers who obsessively demand certain free benefits. When you have to choose between supporting your employees, with whom you work every day, and irrational customers, who demand a free service and do not hesitate to cause trouble over it, whose side are you going to take? 

In a survey, chairperson of one of the premier firms of IT services Northampton stated that valuing your employees is quite critical and that treating them disrespectfully can cause a lot of harm to the company. If they get a feeling that they are not being supported even when there is a misbehaving customer ill-treating them, they may begin to resent the organisation.. So stop practicing the “customer is always right” saying, which directly favors the customers and leads to employee dissatisfaction. 

Provides An Unfair Advantage To Abrasive Customers 

The predefined advantage of being “always right” and “if you don’t ask, you won’t get” philosophy is that it allows abusive customers to make ludicrous demands and obviously they’re right by definition, aren’t they? This, in turn, makes employees’ jobs harder to rein them in. Additionally, such people receive better treatment than others, which I personally don’t like and this further encourages rash behavior from certain customers, especially with the customer service team. 

Some Customers Are Bad For Business 

Few businesses focus on bringing more customers into their business since they believe that “more the customers better it is”. But ironically, not every customer is good for your business. The customers who consistently treat your employees badly should be denied service without any further delay. Remember that, it is not just a matter of financial calculation like if the company would lose money on that customer in the long run, but a matter of employee respect and of treating them in the right manner. 

Stimulate Worse Customer Service 

If businesses focus on putting their employees first, employees would feel more satisfied at work and will provide better customer service because 

• They know how to care more about other people, including customers 
• They will work more energetically and enthusiastically 
• When they will feel happy, they will interact more 
• They will be driven by motivation 

On the contrary, when the company consistently sides with their customers instead of their employees, it reveals a clear message: 

• Employees are not valued and treating them properly is not important 
• Customers are not entitled to respect employees 
• Employees have to tackle everything without any ‘if’s and ‘But’s. 

With this prevailing attitude, employees don’t care about customer service. And thus, delivering genuinely good services becomes difficult for them. 

Some Customers Are Just Plain Wrong 

I have witnessed many scenarios where businesses dismissed customers over their employees and discarded the belief that customers are always right. And I think that’s one of the biggest rewards that a business can provide to its employees. 

Customers can also be wrong sometimes. A good customer service is, undoubtedly, a brilliant business tactic, but unfortunately, sometimes customers are flat out wrong. Entertaining every wrong customer request is not the best approach, but not rolling over to please them, definitely is. 

Customers Start Considering Themselves Always Right And Hence, Behave Rudely 

An adverse side effect of the "customer is always right" mentality is that customers get a privilege to behave rudely as if it is their right to do so. Generally, customers find two excuses for behaving rudely: 

1. When they initially behave in a rude manner with your employees and your employees, instead of dealing with it kindly, choose to respond harshly to it. 

2. When your employees are just not in the mood or give unclear explanations about the causes that may have triggered the problem. 

Other than this, rude customers are never "right." And if possible, counter them with tact. When a rude customer tries to misbehave with your employees, tackle them smartly but always smile because you already have their money. I, personally, believe that companies should sustain the ability of walking away from the customers who are not worth the aggravation. Remember that, "The customer is always right" is just a philosophy, not a business plan, which basically teaches to not argue with people and instead try to work with them. 

A great customer service is delivered when you keep your customer's interests in mind and you know how to communicate with them effectively. “The customer is always right”- is not about right or wrong, but about how to establish great relationships with people.


I hope you enjoyed this article about why the customer might not always be right after all

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