Is the customer always right? Your comments.

The Customer is Always Right

My post on why “The Customer is Always Right” is wrong has generated an amazing amount of attention. It’s been read by 100,000s of people and been mentioned all over the blogosphere. It even got picked up in The New York Times.

But most of all, it gets a LOT of great comments. Here are some examples.

Chris wrote:

I run a small company with about 20 employees. One day I heard commotion coming from the reception area. I hear a man yelling “I am the customer, you work for me and the customer is always right!”. I immediately went up and said, “No sir, you can’t get away with what you get away with at Walmart here. This young lady works for me and no matter what you think you were right about, you raised your voice and are no longer welcome.”

He needed our services and wrote a letter of apology for his ‘cranky mood’.

You raise your voice and you are out. No exceptions.

That’s it in a nutshell.

Grant wrote:

I read this post the other day and it was hiding in the back of my mind then this past Thursday I had a job interview. The interviewer asked me, “What do you feel about the statement, ‘The customer is always right’?” I remembered this post and mentioned these points as well as embellished to make it more appropriate to the job description.

After I answered that, the interviewer told me that I was the first person all day to answer that question correctly (she had already interviewed 6 people). Today I got a call offering me the position. I’d like to think that it had something to do with this blog post.

Thanks :)

SEE MOM! BROWSING THE INTERNETS IS A GOOD THING!!!

I’ve told Grant that I take full credit for him getting the job and given him an account number where he can deposit 10% of his first year’s salary :o)

Marie wrote:

We recently had a customer who bounced a check, and had the audacity to call my customer service manager with a tirade of yelling & profanity (before she could explain what had happened). She was calm and waited for him to settle down and tried to explain… He continued to use profanity, only to stop when my CS Manager politely told him that if he didn’t quit, she would hang up… Later, he emailed a complaint to the corporate office stating how rude and unprofessional she had been…

The customer DOES NOT have the right to harass my employees. I just happened to be in the office that day and could hear him screaming at her over the phone. I think she handled it WONDERFULLY; I took her out to lunch!

I don’t believe that a customer has the right to verbally assault my employees and I have trained them not to take that type of abuse from anyone.

SueBob writes:

I worked at a print shop where my manager would occasionally fire customers. In four years, I think it was 3 people. He told one person, “I won’t have you abuse my employee.”

I would have crawled through broken glass for him. It was one of the best employment experiences of my life.

These comments show that there are many companies out there that realize that putting the employees first actually results in better customer service. The formula is simple: Happy employees = happy customers.

But of course not everyone gets it. Yet.

Anonymous writes:

I work in a call center and showed this article to my boss. I’m told that senior managers view the ideas presented here as “silly.” Is it any wonder employees think our company is out to get them?

Customers are allowed to verbally abuse our employees and this is supposed to be a sign of great customer service. All the while, lower level managers are directed to keep turnover down. The company doesn’t understand that people are not satisfied in a job where the company supports abuse towards them.

Get a clue.

Sheeesh!

12 thoughts on “Is the customer always right? Your comments.”

  1. And add to that:
    The mission is more important than anything in most sustainably successful undertakings – if you judge by a lot of management literature. (My favorite illustration of this I found in “Good to Great”).

    That would also put the mission over customers or, at least, those customers who do not help the undertaking towards its mission.

    Plus:
    Customers and employees are humans more than they are anything else. I would put humans before the mission, the customer and anything else – and therefore not allow people in my organization to be treated indecently by anyone.

  2. I’m glad that there are some great managers out there that look after their employees. The lady that would crawl through glass for her manager was a great example of loyalty due to good managing. Hopefully more and more people will pick up on this concept and support their employees who are being treated unfairly by customers or clients.

  3. That call center story sounds very similar to a Cingular / AT&T call center I once worked at . Corporate sanctioned abuse of the employee and then Sr management became baffled about why turnover was so high.

  4. I think it is important to differentiate between “the customer is always right” and “the customer has the right to abuse employees”. When a person infringes on the rights of others, he loses some rights of his own.

    That being said, humans do occasionally get into cranky moods, and to forgive is divine…so if either a customer or an employee has a rare “cranky mood”, let’s show compassion.

  5. I applaude you for standing up for employees and also for the small shop owner who is often the only person working. We own a small e-scooter and e-bike shop. People are always claining chargers and other equipment suddenly stopped working through no fault of theirs. Electronic Forensics will always tell the tale. I have had to raise my voice and tell customers to get out, when the scam is so obvious. I hate doing that because I was taugt the customer is always right. After a few years of dealing with the public you can smell the scam coming. You can see the red flags raising. When they start talking attorney’s and the BBB you know that they know they lost. Thanks for letting me vent. Tim Royal.

  6. The customer is almost always wrong. I (unfortunately) have worked with the public virtually my entire life in my parents auto repair shop. The “always right” attitude has led to a complete overdevelopment of entitlement in the general public. I have fired a number of customers and will never apologize for doing so. I am very protective of my employees and they know that I always have their back. Currently four of my employees have been with us for almost twenty years. Thank you for shedding light on this insidious attitude and giving me a chance to vent.
    Scott

  7. My opinion of customers is some of them expect so much service and they give very little. Most customers are ok as long as they buy something then leave,my job is to give what they paid for nothing more. The only people i care about pleasing our my regular people who drop off their packages and buy shipping supplies on a regular basis, Most other customers i will never see again anyway regardless if they come on go it does not matter to me.

    I have practiced new customer service rules i only help one person at time if they can’t wait too bad, another customer will come and replace them one monkey does not stop a show.

    The problem with customer is always right is far from the truth.

    It is nothing wrong with the job it is the people you have to deal with, if people would use common sense, take the time to read something before they type of print or sign, treat the customer service person with respect they will most likely get respect in return. Customer service is up to the customer.

  8. Scott A hit the nail right on the head. Employers should back up their employees and not listen to some stranger who thinks they have the God given right to verbally abuse someone. If employers keep listening to strangers instead of employees who are loyal to them, they won’t have employees anymore.

  9. Sounds exactly like Comcast Collections actually. As agents, we are forbidden to hang up on a customer who is verbally assaulting us. We are required to take the verbal abuse. If we disconnect, it is grounds for termination.

    When asked about this, management stated it is their policy never to hang up on a customer. Policy. So to keep our jobs, we endure. I know many agents plagued by low morale, supervisors who are never available to their agents or the customers during escalated times, and increased health ailments which have caused increased attendance issues and loss of job.

    This is the first company I have worked for in 15 years in this industry that would not permit the agent to hang up after giving the customer a “warning” about their language and manner and how the call would be ended if the customer did not refrain from verbally abusing them.

    Is their policy illegal– to make it’s employees be verbally abused with the threat of loss of employment should they disconnect the call?

  10. yesterday a customer verbally assaulted me, called me all the names in the book, threw a phone at me, made me cry then made fun of me for crying and told all the customers i had in the store not to buy off me and too leave. my manager told me i was in the wrong for crying and the lady is now getting something for ‘all her trouble.’ this isnt the first time this has happened within our company and i think its gotten to the point where people think if they are rude enough they will get stuff out of it. its pretty sad when being rude pays off.

  11. We have the same entitled customers here in England . Employees seem petrified to stand up to them. This situation needs to change. I am going to share this article. 20 years in retail and I actually think I deteste 90percent of people – they wear you down , they have few manors, generally stupid, expect the world, ask for advice but never listen, shout and become aggressive , I think it’s 5 percent nice folk. 10 vile scum and 85 percent idiots.

    Perhaps us retailers should strike so they can’t get their sundries and then they might realise they need us.

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