You’ve heard it before, “the customer is always right.” This phrase was coined in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, who owned a department store in London. The thing is, that was well over 100 years ago, and things have dramatically changed. So while we’re not suggesting customers aren’t as important, there are some times where you should abandon this phrase. In some cases, it can actually lead to terrible customer service. Here are a few reasons why the customer isn’t always right.
It Can Create Disgruntled Employees
If your employees have to bend over backward for customers yelling at them, it will eventually have an adverse effect. When customers are demanding, unreasonable, and disrespectful, employees should have the right to stand up to that. We’re talking about the guy who demands a free stay at a high-end hotel because they didn’t put feather pillows in his room kind of thing. You can’t treat employees like they don’t hold value – it costs a lot to find and train the right people. You want to support them when customers are out of line. There are many examples of bad employees who unfairly give lousy customer service but declaring the customer is always right won’t solve this problem.
Abrasive Customers Will Abuse this Notion
If people know your company will put them first, you’ll see some of them taking advantage of that. It is taxing on everyone, and often, no matter what you do, you can’t please them anyway. Customers can be plain abusive, and to give them better treatment than friendly people make no sense. Most people value kindness and being humane, so do you really want nasty customers anyway? Chances are if they complain a lot about you, their friends stopped listening because it’s not personal towards your business.
It May Be Bad for Business
Sure, it’s great to have as many customers as possible, but some may be bad for your business. They take up your time and energy, and even if you do all you can while ignoring the simple needs of your other customers, they may slander you anyway. It’s okay to fire a customer. It’s not about finances or whether you’ll lose money on the customer. In the long run, you’re going to be better off. You want your employees to be treated with dignity and respect, and it’s okay to let customers go who don’t value that ideal.
Can Result in Bad Customer Service
You may start off with a team of enthusiastic staff, but they may ultimately get exhausted and bitter if you’re not backing them up. Hal Rosenbluth, a successful CEO, wrote a book called “Put the Customer Second – Put Your People First and Watch’ Em Kick Butt.” That pretty much says it all. If you treat your employees well and put them first, they will be content to go to work. They give better customer service because they have more energy, are happy, motivated, and want to interact with customers.
If you drag them down with the customer is always right values; they don’t feel valued or supported. They have to put up with everything from customers, which can make them feel like a doormat. When this attitude starts within them, they’ll stop trying to provide good service. They will shut down because they don’t want to feel hurt or disappointed.
Some Customers are Totally Wrong
Sometimes a customer is entirely wrong. In the customer service industry, you are dealing with all sorts of problems. They might have personal issues going on and completely take it out on the staff. They may have forgotten to take their medication, or they might even be under the influence. The customer may just have a nasty chip on their shoulder, and this certainly doesn’t belong to your company or your employees. Some customers complain so they can get something free. People can be highly unreasonable with demands that don’t fit the situation, and trying to negate the issue is nearly impossible. It can be extremely debilitating for a customer service agent, so give them the power to stop that customer from running them over. Some customers can be just plain wrong, and your business is better without their toxicity.
Support your team and make sure they know that they don’t have to put up with being yelled at or talked down to. It will create a better team environment, and you’ll weed out customers that will only suck you and your team’s energy.