One of the long-standing theories of retailing is that the customer is always right. Managers and floor staff will discourse for hours trying to convince others to their side of this argument. The facts are clear and there is a definitive and absolute answer to this age-old query.
The phrase “The customer is always right” was originally coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909, and is typically used by businesses to:
- Convince customers that they will get good service at this company
- Convince employees to give customers good service maybe even fear them
Fortunately more and more retailers are abandoning this maxim – ironically because it leads to bad customer service. So is the customer always right?
A customer walks into the alcohol counter of the store, red eyed and in a total foul mood. He goes straight to the counter salesman, grabs him by the shirt and shouts: “You sold me a lousy drink for lousy money, give me back my money or I beat you!” His food store then opens and all the mixture (alcohol, roast meet etc) contained there floods the young man and his counter!
A cashier to the customer: “Sorry sir, but we don’t have coins; can I offer you sweets or a matchbox instead?”
Customer takes the sweets, throws them on the cashiers face and uses very abusive language, walks out and leaves the whole shopping, to the disgust of staff and shoppers.
So, is the Customer always right? Five reasons why this is not always the case:
- When It makes employees unhappy
- When it gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage
- Some customers are just bad for business
- When it results in worse customer service from the staff
- Some customers are just plain wrong
The fact is that some customers are just plain wrong, those businesses are better of without them, and that managers siding with unreasonable customers over employees is a very bad idea, that results in worse customer service. So put your people first. And watch them put the customers first.
In conclusion, it is important to observe the adage that “CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS KING”. The King may be wrong but will always remain KING.
JASPER OUMA – firstname.lastname@example.org, 0722726055
CHIEF TRAINER AT DMS RETAIL TRAINERS