Is The Customer Always Right? Let’s Explore

Years ago, back in 1909 in fact, a phrase penned “the customer is always right” by Harry Gordon Selfridge became a thing, and has done now for many years. It is something we hear just spoken outloud, when a service is bad, a product isn’t up to scratch and a complaint is sent into a business, shop or company. The customer is always right. It is also something that a company may use to their advantage, to perhaps give the impression that they will offer a good service. That their products or services are worth buying. That they appreciate that the customer is always right. But is this really the case? Do we often think about the domino effect of this complaint that someone has made? Is it legitimate? In a society where claiming for everything has now become a trend can we really say that the customer is always right? I wanted to explore this notion and look at it from an alternative perspective.




It can make employees unhappy

When dealing with people in a customer facing environment, and you find that there is a complaint and they think that they should be give x, y and z because the customer is always right, is this really fair on the employee dealing with the situation? Of course it is always good to ensure you keep up a good service, but you also need to protect staff from abuse and it can also cause resentment, especially if you find that in certain cases the customer isn’t always right.

Some customers are just bad for business

There will always be people that aren’t happy with the service, but you can also find that some customers are just bad for business. Perhaps slating your business and making up stories because they don’t get what they wanted when they complained, this can then be a cause for a lawsuit for defamation of character which if a customer is proven to be guilty of, can be won in the businesses favour. The truth is, we may always try to get the resolve we want for our complaint, but if it has been handled well, and there really is no room to go, does it make you right because you wanted that refund or resolve to then leave bad reviews? Is the customer right in this circumstance?


It can result in worse customer service

Sometimes focusing on exactly what the customer wants doesn’t make for good service. You may solve a small problem but does it resolve the bigger picture. Giving in could mean that you end up losing that customer forever, instead of looking at the root cause of their initial complaint and actually resolving it or even standing by your company in a respectful manner. If your employees know that you have their back they can feel more respected in work and can therefore feel more motivated to do a better job, going above and beyond to resolve an issue instead of just giving in and going along with the customer is always right notion. Which potentially loses you business.


By no means does this mean that a customer isn’t right, but it is certainly worth thinking about the next time you may utter those words.