Is The Customer Always Right?


Is The Customer Always Right

A Different Point of View

The customer is always right. That was the adage they used to hammer into our brains when I started my first business. That was what they taught us in all the business classes and that’s what the marketing geniuses always preached. I’ve spent most of my business life regurgitating that very same maxim.

But lately, I have to wonder if the truth to this dictum—yes, I have access to a thesaurus and I intend to abuse it to the max—still holds true. The real purpose behind this phrase is to reassure customers that they can expect the best service at your establishment and to make your staff work hard to keep customers happy by providing such service. But in today’s social media savvy (I mean heavy) environment, is the customer always right?!

In my experience, most customers are the silent type. They come to your business expecting good service and if they don’t get it, they simply go somewhere else. They don’t file any complaints, or demand to see the manager, or insist on talking to the owner. They simply take their business to another service provider.

There are, however, a lot of customers these days who fall into the category of “not always being right,” and they all seem to have been made worse by the existence of social media. They have been granted tremendous power—albeit unfair power—over local businesses by Yelp, Google, and other search engine based entities. Always ready at the drop of a hat to give a bad review, whether deserved or not, simply because they didn’t like the way you greeted them, or the way you handed them the money, or even the fact that it took a couple of minutes longer because you had a sudden rush and had to scramble to handle the extra load.

There are many types of these customers, each worst than the other and each determined to make your life, as a business, harder so that they can feel good about themselves and then share their “experience” with a really narrow and limited circle of friends.

The first type is my favorite. Customers that belong to this type are always looking for a refund. “I want my money back,” they would always shout because you missed this or you didn’t do that. Whatever they point to, is not even that significant sometimes. They want to feel superior by nitpicking on some shortcomings, real or otherwise. Sometimes they haven’t even paid for what they claim to be

missing. “Oh, you took too long.” “I had to wait close to an hour.” When you look at their receipt, it is not even twenty minutes, which is actually below the average time it usually takes. They just want their money back. When you explain to them that you have done over ninety-nine percent of the work, they still want their entire payment back because that one percent is all they “really” cared for.

The second type is the one that carries a perpetual chip on their shoulders. They are always playing the victim card and look for prejudice where there may be none to begin with. They justify their bad attitude by saying that you, as the business, don’t like them because they belong to a certain race or ethnicity, and your poor service is the result, even though there may not even be any poor service; they just want to see it that way. Any service is poor to them, no matter how hard you try to please them. They cannot be pleased. They don’t want to be pleased. That’s how they go through life.

The third type is the opposite one. They are the ones with their prejudice entirely on display. They are the ones that believe that you don’t belong in their neighborhood/city/country because you happen to look different from them. You are considered an outsider, even though you may have lived here longer than them. If you have an accent, even if the person with the accent is just an employee and the actual owner is one just like them, they would tell you to go back to where you came from. In my case, that would be West Covina. Horrible commute, but doable, if I must.

Then there are the dishonest ones, the cream of the crop, who try to find some way not to pay you for your service. My favorite line is, “Oh, I already paid.” When you ask to see the receipt, “Oh, I threw it away.” When you say that you are the only one collecting payments, they say, “Oh, I paid it to the other guy.” When you say that there is no other guy, we can check the cameras, then the foul language starts. They start cursing as if you are the one doing something wrong.

The customer is not always right. You must keep this in mind that this world is full of shysters, scammers, and thieves. Most of them end up at my business, and my employees, God bless them, have to deal with them on a daily basis.

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