Is the Customer Always Right?

is the customer always right

Consumerism at its Best

For countries that encourage consumerism there may be a general attitude that the “customer is always right”. This business principal stems from the idea that a pleased customer is a paying customer. For some companies, a complaint from a consumer related to an employee’s service could go as far as termination. As consumers we want the best for our money, service with a smile, and solutions to any issues. If you call support and get a customer service agent that has been outsourced to somewhere outside of the USA, an American or English-speaking agent can be requested. Businesses have gotten smarter about things like customers returning items; many of them offer exchanges over refunds. They maintain that this is still an obliging attitude of customer service by agreeing to the exchange without question (provided the item is not damaged and most places require a receipt). Companies often have a certain allowance or budget for extended circumstances of a potentially unhappy customer, where a negative review and no repeat business may be at stake.

Manipulating the System

Unfortunately, there are those who have observed the system and have decided to manipulate it to their advantage. Companies require receipts to return or exchange an item in part to prevent people’s dishonesty of trying to return an item they know they did not purchase from that company. A dishonest restaurant patron may try something like eating most of their food before lying to the waiter about finding a foreign object in the meal or asserting that the food was terrible. Some may be tempted to exploit free items or services that places offer to an excessive degree, feeling justified because of a belief that big business is corrupt.
“They get over on me all the time, so I’m going to get over whenever I can.”

Cutting Costs

While it may not seem like a big deal, applying that attitude to patrons in large numbers can add up in costs for companies. Some places have implemented additional methods of cutting back on customer privilege. Remember when you could go to a fast food restaurant and grab excessive handfuls of condiments, napkins, and plastic cutlery? For many drive-thrus, you must now request those items and even then it will be a pre-determined amount; some sauces cost additional. While negative reviews on apps like Yelp or social media can be crippling, so can going out of business because of too many free bells and whistles to customers.

Bad Customer Service

Some stories of customer service are so bad they seem unreal and you wonder how that employee has kept their job for however long they have. Smartphones have encouraged people to whip out their phones and record altercations in stores. A branch lingerie store was cited for racism after the employees asked all the non-white patrons to leave the store when some merchandise had gone missing. A vineyard in California recently lost a rather hefty lawsuit for similar indiscretions. Some may think the days of a rude employee and bad customer service ought to have faded by now considering many places terminate for complaints, but it has not seemed to slow down the average miserable worker.

Police Customers

Scrutiny of law enforcement has escalated in the USA, with many feeling a need to choose sides of defending police or vigorously denouncing them with shared articles and videos capturing alleged police brutality. Citizens argue that as employees paid with taxpayer money, police need to enforce the law with a smile. The average law abiding citizen may be inclined to agree, however are we considering what sort of ‘customers’ police may be used to getting most of the time? All humans have limits, and perhaps there one day there will be new solutions that encourage citizens to take more personal responsibility as well as stricter measures to maintain the mental health and stability of police or find better placement for them. What is clear is that customer service is a mutual responsibility of both companies and customers themselves.