Some of you might be thinking I used the wrong punctuation on that title, but I assure you, it is a question. Is the customer really always right?
Oct. 1 to Oct. 5 is Customer Service Appreciation Week. I thought that would be the perfect time to raise the question I've often wanted to ask.
I have worked in customer service in one way or another all of my entire working life food service, retail, call center, registration I've done it all. I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but I would say the experience brings with it a vast knowledge of the topic and in my opinion, the customer is not always right. Sometimes the customer is a jerk.
There was a man who would come into the Wal-Mart I worked at with the intention of making the cashier cry. Seriously; it was his mission and he would look for a new victim each visit. Was he ever kicked out of the store? No. Was he ever warned about his behavior by management? No. Why? He was a paying customer.
"The customer is always right" gave an entire generation of people the green light to be as impolite, unreasonable and demanding as their little hearts desired because they were always going to be considered right.
It pretty much destroyed the entire concept of courtesy and rendered manners obsolete. People started treating their peers in the service industry like incompetent morons, lacking in feelings or human dignity, who deserved to be browbeaten and abused for no other reason than they had the audacity to run out of a particular brand of coffee.
The real kicker is that instead of suffering negative repercussions for their appallingly disrespectful behavior, they are often awarded with apologies, free coupons and gift cards. Shouldn't they be shunned and humiliated for behaving like such self absorbed little children?
I agree that sometimes the kid behind the counter doesn't care. They don't want to be at work and they move at a snails pace. I get it, it annoys me too, but for every one of those folks there is normally several who provide awesome customer service and never get one compliment. Plus they have to deal with the slow non-carer all day, not for five minutes like you just had to.
I twonder if difficult customers only act the way they do is because no one ever calls them on it. The poor person behind the counter can't stand up for themselves or they lose their jobs and other patrons look the other way claiming 'it's none of my business.'
So I ask that the next time you witness someone being rude to a waitress, snapping at someone asking required questions for their hospital registration or demand a refund on a product they destroyed call them on it. Stand up for the person who can't say anything themselves.
And to the customer giving the person a hard time - remember you are talking to a person that is just trying to do their job. They didn't make the rules. They might not even agree with the rules. They are just trying to pay their bills and support their families. Treat them like you would want to be treated, or better yet how you'd like someone to treat your family.
Happy Customer Service week to all in the service community!