Top reasons why ‘The customer is always right’ is wrong


“The customer is always right.” We have all heard this before on numerous occasions and it is a phrase that businesses have been building companies on for years. But in all honesty, it’s a seriously outdated term. Originating in London in 1909 by American-British retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge’s department store. He wanted to create an idea for the customer to be assured of superb service at all times. He surely had no idea at just how far that phrase would travel and what it would do to transform the business world. Unfortunately, the general public has abused this privilege to the point where it’s no longer good for business. Here are the top reasons why ‘The customer is always right’ is wrong.

Top reasons why ‘The customer is always right’ is wrong

Which customers?

Throughout this article, we are not referring to customers with legitimate concerns. Those customers who have had really terrible service or did not get what they paid for have every right to complain. And company policies need to be put in place to deal with these situations. For the sake of this article, we are referring to those customers who abuse this system. Those who are unreasonable and are never happy. Those who verbally attack the employees, and those who are just hoping for extra special treatment, and free stuff.

The customer is not the expert

A customer who assumes to know the job or company policies better than the employee is purely looking to cause trouble. It is degrading and humiliating for the employee when a customer tells them how to do their job. The employee knows what to do and cannot break with company policies to keep one customer happy. Customers don’t realize that an employee breaking company protocol can end up with disciplinary action and possibly lose their job. The employee must stand their ground and ask for a manager’s assistance to handle such a customer.

Happy employees equal happy customers

Employees who know that they are backed by their company are more confident and happy in their positions. Happy employees go the extra mile for their employers and customers. This is the employee attitude that we want! If the manager always takes the side of the customer, regardless of the underlying circumstances, the employee feels betrayed, unhappy, and useless. An unnecessary rift could form between employees and management where there should be a relationship of trust. What’s the point in giving our best if it’s never seen or appreciated? An unhappy employee is not a productive employee.

Top reasons why ‘The customer is always right’ is wrong

Cut the losses

Rewarding bad customer behaviour will only keep those bad customers coming back. They now know that they can get whatever they want by being a bully. It is better to cut the loss of this type of customer and let them walk away. 90 percent of the time their business is not worth the stress and anxiety created for the employees who deal with them, nor is it worth the constant handing out of free goods. The company will survive without them.

Companies should always focus on having fantastic customer service and employees need to be well trained on this. But the ‘customer is always right’ way of thinking will eventually hurt businesses overall performance. Allowing power-hungry, and offensive customers the right to walk all over people leaves everyone unhappy at the end of the day.