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5 Reasons Why The Customer Is Not Always Right

There are a couple of reasons why the customer is not always right. Every single one of us is at one point or another, a customer. As a customer, I believe you have felt that this saying applied to you too. 

This catchphrase “the customer is always right” was popularised by Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker, and Marshall Field in the early 1900s.

This team believed and advocated that the needs of customers should be taken seriously, no questions asked. The attitude or practice immediately became influential, and over 120 years later it’s still being practiced.

In the beginning, it was a great way to make customers feel special and was a marketing technique even.

However, the slogan never took account of the fact that customers can be dishonest, have unrealistic expectations, or purposely misuse products to void guarantee.

These are the basis for why the customer is not always right today.

Companies and businesses that have continued to live with this motto have one thing in common: frustrated employees.

Here are the 5 reasons why the customer is not always right and why you should ditch that motto now.

1. There are wrong customers

Living with the mantra “the customer is always right” says customers are incapable of making mistakes.

Customers, like you and I, are humans and prone to mistake. Issues might span from a customer’s inability to understand simple policies, or simply from their own selfish desires.

The “customer is always right” mentality means your customer support will always have to go out of their way to please a customer every time, even if they are wrong.

Imagine a customer who purchases a piece of expensive furniture or electronics from a retail shop on Amazon. After receiving the product, used it for some time, and then the customer says the product isn’t good enough and wants a refund. If Amazon has a “customer is always right” mantra, a refund will be issued.

There the business has lost without it being given a chance to prove its innocence. “The customer is always right” basically says no customer is deceptive, which is wrong. This is one of the reasons why the customer can be wrong.

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2. It damages the management-employee relationship

The “customer is always right” mantra will damage the relationship between management and employee. This will, in turn, lead to resentment from employees.

This happens when the employer tends to take the side of the customer regardless of the situation. This also leads to poor job performance and poorer service rendering.

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3. It is impossible to satisfy everyone

The “customer is always right” practice comes with the belief that every single customer can be satisfied.

Another reason why this is wrong.

You are living in an illusion if you think you can please everyone. From meeting perfectionist who will pick up on the smallest flaws in your product to the outright troublesome customers. You have to know it is impossible to satisfy all customers, and as such you do not have to force it. Know that it is okay to fire customers that you deem difficult or impossible.

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4. Customers will hurt your business

The quality of your clientele has nothing to do with the number. Gathering all sorts of customers will hurt your business despite the sum they bring in.

There are customers who will be rude and abusive to your staff, and still ruin your company’s reputation.

At this point, you will have to decide what is more important to your business: a few customers or your reputation and the sanity of your workforce?

The good news is that you can learn how to effectively deal with difficult clients, or how best to cut them off.

5. Result in poor customer service

Your workforce and especially your customer representative staffs are at the forefront of every business. When this part of your business suffers, the rest of your business will take a hit.

When you force your staff to put the customer first no matter what, it will result in poorer customer service.

The bottom line

These are the 5 reasons why “customers are always right” is wrong.

As a startup, SME, or large business, if you have prioritized the satisfaction of your customers over that of your staff, these 5 reasons would help you to re-evaluate your stand.


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