Why the “customer is always right” is Wrong?

The saying that the customer is always right was coined by Harry Gordon, founder of Selfridge department store in 1909 and since then has been adopted by almost all businesses to convince customers that they will most definitely be getting great service from them.

However, now more and more companies have stopped using this as a slogan for their business as it is not fair to the customer support team and not good for the business.

Some reasons why customers are not always right are:

  • The customer is not an expert of the business

Specifically true for pharmaceutical companies and healthcare industry; saying that the customer is always right can be destructive to the business. Your customers are not experts in medicines and diagnosis of their illness. If they were treated as per what they feel is right for them, then there would not be many satisfied customers/patients left in the long term for hospitals and clinics.

There are many other instances in which the customer can be wrong due to incomplete or inexpert information on the product or service. Hence, the customer should be respected but there is no need to agree with them to the degree of fulfilling their wants and ignoring their needs.

  • Your employees should be held in higher regard

Employees and salespersons deal with dozens of clients on a daily basis. Many may be abrasive, unreasonable, nasty and rude. To place those customers above your employees is downright unfair to your employees and may make them miserable and de-motivated. You need to respectfully inform the customers that though they are highly valued in your business, they cannot degrade or mistreat your work force.

No doubt, employees can also mistreat customers but the solution is not to declare that the customer is always right. Instead, you should provide proper training to your employees to be able to handle customer related matters in a poised, respectful and diplomatic way.

  • Unreasonable customers can use it unfairly

If you claim that the customer is always right, then it gives the abrasive ones an upper hand and power to claim anything from the business. This can put employees in a tricky situation as well as it is not fair for the good customers. I mean shouldn’t good customers be treated more nicely than the unreasonable and offensive ones?

  • Every customer is not invaluable to the business

If you are running a successful business, you should accept that you do not need every customer especially those who complain more often than once, are rude and cause stress for your employees. The profit they bring to you is not more valuable than your employees’ dignity, morale and health!

  • Results in worst customer service

It is a simple rule of thumb that a motivated and happy employee will extend better customer service than a demotivated and unhappy one. This is because an employee who is happy have more energy, is cheerful and are more concerned about the plight of people and customers around them.

  • Most customers prefer predictability

Such is human nature that it prefers the ease of familiarity and routine. Hence, if anything strikes out of their comfort zones, they will not accept it readily. Albeit, in the very near future they will realize how the change has made life easier for them! Hence, if you go by the notion that the customer is always right, your business will never be able to break free from the norm, innovate or improve and hence, will not be able to compete in this ever evolving world of technology.

This fact does not hold true only for technology driven industry but also fashion, and food industry. When you make any changes, initial backlash is part of the package and should be taken in positive manner. To let undue customer feedback paralyze innovation is not practically viable for a business.

So, the saying that “the customer is always right” is no longer applicable for today’s time and age.