Top 5 Reasons Why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ Is Wrong
I assume, however, that corporations should ironically drop this term once and for all because it leads to worse customer service. You're expected to respect them... If they think that when a client is out of line, you won't help them, even the smallest issue will cause resentment.
Initially coined in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge's department store in London, the term "The customer is always right" is usually used by companies to reassure consumers that they can get good service in this company and convince staff to provide good service to customers.
I assume, however, that corporations should ironically drop this term once and for all because it leads to worse customer service.
Here are the top five justifications why "The Customers is Always Right"
1: It makes dissatisfied workers
Gordon Bethune is a brash Texan (as is Herb Kelleher, coincidentally) best known for converting "From Worst to First," a storey told in his 1998 book of the same title, into Continental Airlines. He wanted to make sure that the way Continental handled them was respected by both customers and workers, so he made it very clear that the "customer is always right" concept did not rule Continental.
He will regularly side with his citizens in disputes between workers and unruly customers. This is how he put it:
Our commitment to our workers is when we run into clients who we can't pull back in. Every day they have to put up with this stuff. Just because you buy a ticket, you do not have the right to harass our workers.
Each month, we handle more than 3 million people through our books. One or two of those individuals would be irrational, demanding jerks. When it's a decision to help your staff who work for you every day and make your product what it is or some angry jerk who asks for a free trip to Paris because you ran out of peanuts, which side are you going to be on? You can't handle the staff like slaves. You're expected to respect them... If they think that when a client is out of line, you won't help them, even the smallest issue will cause resentment.
So Bethune trusted his people over unequal clients. What I love about this attitude is that it balances staff and clients. The always correct" rule squarely benefits the client, which is a bad idea, because it creates dissatisfaction among workers, as Bethune says.
Of course, there are many cases of bad employees delivering crappy customer service, but it is counter-productive to try to fix this by declaring the customer "always correct."
2: It Gives Abrasive Customers an Unfair Advantage
Using the phrase "The client is always right," abusive clients will demand just about anything. By definition, they're right, aren't they? This makes the work of workers so much harder when trying to reel in them.
That also means violent individuals get better care and conditions than good individuals. That always seemed wrong to me and being good to nice customers to keep them coming back makes a lot more sense.
3: Some Customers Are Bad for Business
"Most corporations assume more customers". Some clients, however, are very clearly bad for the company.
ServiceGruppen, the Danish IT service provider, proudly tells this story:
For a repair job, one of our service technicians arrived at a customer's location, and the customer was handled very rudely to his great shock.
He told management about his experience when he had completed the assignment and returned to the office. They revoked the customer's deal promptly.
Just as Kelleher dismissed the angry lady who kept moaning (but also kept flying on Southwest somehow a poor customer was shot by ServiceGruppen. Note that it was not a matter of financial calculation — not a question of whether either company would make or lose money on that customer in the long run. It was a simple matter of respect and honesty and the right of their workers to be served.
4: Results in Worse Customer Service
It was carried even further by Rosenbluth International, a corporate travel agency since bought by American Express. CEO Hal Rosenbluth wrote an outstanding book called Put The Customer Second - Put the people first and watch them kick ass about their plan.
Rosenbluth claims that when you put the workers first, they put the clients first. Put employees first and at work, they will be happy. Employees that are satisfied at work provide better service to customers because:
- They think more for other individuals, including clients,
- They have more resources, more power,
- They are happy, which means they are more pleasant to talk to and connect with.
- They are more inspired,
On the other hand, when the organisation and management regularly side with clients rather than with workers, it sends a strong message that
- The workers are not respected
- It is not necessary to treat workers
- Employees have no right to honour
- Employees have something from customers to put up with
Employees stop worrying for service while this mentality prevails. Really good service is almost unlikely at that point-the most customers can hope for is fake good service. You know the sort I mean: courteous only on the surface.
5: Some Customers Are Just Plain Wrong
Herb Kelleher agrees, as From Nuts! does this passage! The excellent Southwest Airlines book shows:
Herb Kelleher[...] makes it clear that even though it means firing clients, his employees come first. But are customers not always correct? 'No, they are not,' snaps Kelleher. And I think this is one of the greatest employee betrayals that a manager can possibly commit. Often the buyer is incorrect. We don’t bring certain kinds of clients. We write and say to them, 'Fly someone else. “Don’t abuse our people”.