If you ever worked in customer service, you’ve surely been told by your supervisor the golden rule of the business: The customer is always right. Regardless of circumstance, issue, or manner of complaint, you have to give way to the patron’s whims and wishes with a smile on your face.
Of course, this is a false statement. The customer is not always right, and it is silly to assume so.
But what are the top reasons why the customer is wrong? And how do you deal with such issues? In this article, we showcase five of the main reasons why the customer isn’t always right and give you pointers on how to navigate these problems.
1. The Customer Sometimes Is Just Plain Wrong
This might seem obvious, but this is the main and most practical reason why the customer isn’t always right. Of course, this can stem from many reasons itself. Often the case is that patrons simply don’t know what goes on behind the curtain.
This can lead to the customer believing a simple wish cannot be completed when it would be impossible to fulfill the demand in reality. They can also blame the workers for things they have no control over, like a broken machine or price changes.
The way you should deal with this requires social skills. If the customer isn’t making outrageous claims and seems reasonable, you can tell them in a polite way that you cannot comply, and it shouldn’t be a problem. If the customer is rude, unreasonable, and making a fuss, you are within reason if you ask them to calm down.
In some edge cases, telling the customer that they would be removed from the premises is a valid action. Keep in mind that most customer interactions are timid, so there is no need to worry about these kinds of things on a regular basis.
2. The Team Can Get Demoralized
The principle of the customer being always right puts them on a pedestal and immediately creates a power imbalance between the workers and the patrons. This can create an unhealthy subliminal thought lingering in the team’s mind that in every altercation, they are at fault no matter what.
This naturally leads to the team already dreading every customer interaction before it even happens, as the smallest little inconvenience can lead to another failure on their part. This creates a vicious cycle, as dissatisfied employees are much more likely to create negative customer experiences.
You should keep in mind that the principle should not be taken literally. The customer isn’t always right, and they are just as human as the workers. The only difference is that the team must uphold the reputation of their workplace. As such, think of the saying as more of an idiom, meaning you shouldn’t take complaints at heart and be polite in every interaction that is within reason.
3. The Team Can’t Do Everything
If the customer is always right, that would mean that every complaint, however unreasonable, should be possible to solve by the team. As such, this can put immense pressure on the team to run after every little nuisance the patrons may mention, even if they cannot do anything about it.
For example, if the ice cream machine is broken and the customer still demands their cold-serve dessert, the team can’t possibly fix it on the spot, and most of the time, they are far from responsible for it being broken in the first place.
Keep in mind that while it is your job to create a hospitable and polite atmosphere, you are a caterer, not a servant to the customer. You are responsible for taking orders, making orders, fulfilling wishes, or being helpful, but you have your limitations, as does everyone. If you keep in mind that you are not solely responsible for everything wrong and you can’t possibly fix them, you’ll be in a much better headspace.
4. Meaningful Customer Interactions Are Important
Contrary to the phrase in question, the most important principle in customer interactions isn’t making them feel validated in literally every aspect possible. Most customers and people are completely reasonable and just want to have a nice, polite, and swift service.
If you go out of your way and have friendly interactions, they will have positive memories of the place, making them more likely to return in the future. And more importantly, it makes for a much healthier and happier workplace dynamic.
These fulfilling and meaningful interactions are much more important in keeping a business afloat by maintaining its reputation than simply running around after every complaint. Being respectful and creating a welcoming and caring atmosphere is a must for every successful business, and on top of that, it is essential for a happy workplace.
5. The Customer Sometimes Isn’t Worth Catering To
While it’s true that the lifeblood of the business is the customer, it is not every type of customer that this sentiment is true about. There are patrons who are generally toxic to the working environment for both employees and customers. These can be for a myriad of reasons. They can get hysterical over minute issues, be overtly rude to staff, be aggressive to other customers, or try to leave without paying.
These types of customers aren’t worth keeping. While in the short run, they might seem worth keeping, as they are paying, they are detrimental to the reputation of the establishment. Dealing with them within reason is the right choice. More importantly, money isn’t the be-all-end-all of everything. It is crucial to keep the mental and physical well-being of the employees and customers as a priority.
The customer isn’t always right and to assume so is detrimental to the business, customer satisfaction, and the employees’ morale. Patrons do not know what goes on behind the counter so they are likely to blame workers for reasons beyond their capabilities. The team also gets demoralized if the pressure is put on them for things they are not responsible for.
There are certain things that the team isn’t capable of fixing, and the management shouldn’t expect them to do so. The workforce’s resources should be put to use in meaningful customer interactions as those are the ones that retain a customer base in the long run. Certain customers are detrimental to a business’s reputation as well and those patrons aren’t worth keeping anyway.