Why the customer is not always right

Natalee Reynolds, Columnist

When I was 16, I got my first job working at my local Monical’s Pizza. I stayed there for two years waitressing, cooking, working drive thru and everything in between.

While working at Monical’s, I had my fair share of encounters with upset customers, overreacting customers and the ones who just think they know it all.

Of course, during this time, “the customer is always right” was drilled into my little developing brain, so I would always swallow my thoughts, grit my teeth and force a smile to show my well-trained professionalism to awful customers.

But after working in the food industry for a few years and now working in sales, I have come to terms that the customer is, in fact, not always right. Here’s why:

1. The customer is not an expert in your field of work.

I recently had an encounter with a customer who thought she knew more about the product that I was selling than what I knew about it. After a passive aggressive comment and a friendly, teeth-gritting explanation, she was still convinced she knew best. However, the truth is that she was simply utterly and completely wrong.

2. Most employees cannot bend rules for the customer, no matter what they think.

Unfortunately, there are some customers out there who are never satisfied—no matter what you do or don’t do. And sadly, most of the employees who work there and have to deal with these customers have to follow the rules because they have to. What I mean by this is even if the employee wanted to bend the rules, they usually don’t have the power/authority/code to actually do so. This is something some customers just don’t understand, so they are never happy no matter how dedicated you are to pleasing them (sometimes I wonder if they act this way towards their children or significant other, too).

3. Rude, know-it-all customers create bad experiences for everyone else.

Any time a customer starts causing a scene or overreacting about the 50-cent up-charge, it causes everyone around the situation to have a bad experience almost every time. There are those occasional times that a good customer will help out the employee and call out the rude guy for being ridiculous, but most of the time it puts a damper on everyone’s parade.

After the drilling of “the customer is always right,” I have come up with my own (unoriginal) slogan: “The customer is not always right.” Drilling the original slogan into employees’ brains causes them to allow ridiculous, demanding customers to be right in every situation without question.

And I think that needs to be seriously reevaluated.

Yes, we can learn from rude customers because it helps us grow as current and future employees. However, sometimes it’s OK to say that the customer isn’t always right.

Natalee Reynolds is a sophomore English and creative writing major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].