“The Customer is Always Right”

Do you ever wonder how certain cliché statements came to be? Who coined this statement? What inspired it? When was it coined? Why? Where is this person now? Do they still feel like that today? I have an idea, how about just string a couple of words together, make them catchy and regurgitate them long enough until they stick to people’s minds. The result of that is another cliché statement that gets passed from one generation to another regardless of the accuracy of this statement. You would often find some cliché statements to be true, for example, “only time will tell” is truly accurate because indeed time does always tell, but really, is the customer always right.

            I imagine the person who first said “the customer is always right” must have had a pleasant exchange with a customer. On the other hand, It could have been an attempt to convince the customer that the business offered the best service. Here is where we often get it wrong, we look at a small sample size of a particular group of people, get some findings then apply those findings to the whole group. I do not subscribe to this cliché for many reasons, one of them being, nobody is always right, it’s that simple.

            Furthermore, it’s embedded in human nature to be about self which means taking advantage of every situation to benefit yourself. So, it is not surprising that customers approach businesses with a lack of courtesy and a full-blown sense of entitlement because, well, “the customer is always right”. Unfortunately for the businesses, they all have to endure whatever behavior comes with patronage be it deserved or undeserved. After all, it was one of them who coined the term in an attempt to assure the customer of optimum service.

           The irony of this statement is that it could lead to bad customer service. Every business offers its services through its employees. It should be in the interest of the business owners to keep the employees happy because the fate of the business is in their hands. In situations where you have entitled customers insulting employees over flimsy matters, if the owner adopts “the customer is always right” phenom, the result of that would be a set of disgruntled employees who are less motivated to offer good customer service. As a business owner, it is important to critically analyze who is more important to you, a disgruntled customer that would spend at most 10 minutes a day at your place of business or an employee that’s present for hours every day, choose wisely.

            Lastly, could it be that I totally got it wrong, could it be that the statement was not intended to be taken as literal as I have? Who knows? One thing I do know is that I am not the only one guilty of this. The proof exists in the continuous exhibition of unpleasant behaviors by customers who take it literally. At the end of the day, words have meanings.

1 thought on ““The Customer is Always Right””

  1. Interesting write up, I don’t think some nomenclatures should be interpreted literally. ‘A customer is Always right’ has actually constituted a false sense of entitlement in customers.

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