Leadership Tactic #66: The Customer Isn’t Always Right

If you’ve ever waited tables, you know that the customer isn’t always right.

If you’ve ever refereed a soccer game, you know that the customer isn’t always right.

If you’ve ever had any job anywhere, you know that the customer isn’t always right.

So why do we say that the customer is always right?

I’d like to suggest an alternative:

The customer is always respected.

The customer is always respected. Sure, they might claim that they didn’t order a chicken parmesan when you absolutely know they did, but you respect them anyway. Don’t make them feel dumb or inferior. Simply make them feel appreciated and respected even when you know they’re wrong.

That’s the key to good customer service.

11 thoughts on “Leadership Tactic #66: The Customer Isn’t Always Right”

  1. Dude, yeah. When you have to call the cops on a customer in your drive-thru line while you’re working at Chick-Fil-A, they are absolutely not right. And also, I have to admit, not respected.

    • I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to respect that type of customer, but I’m not sure if there’s a way to do it. What were they doing that necessitated calling the cops?

  2. Being belligerent about something that was wrong in their order. Like, cussing all of us out and refusing to pull away from the window so that other people could pick up their food.

  3. I can see that sometimes customers can be belligerent. and I like the idea of respecting the customer. Take a look at the link from Bob Farrell’s tactic of Give Em The Pickle. Maybe that tactic could defuse the belligerent customer.

  4. Oh, memories! It’s been WAY too long since I had a yelling/cursing/awful customer who needs a night in the pokey to settle down. 🙂
    It seems like there are some jobs in which it’s less likely the customer will be always right or always respected. Which makes me wonder, are there any jobs in which the customer is never right? Jobs in which you’d actually do the client a disservice by respecting their opinions or wishes? (Prison warden? Weight loss camp dietitian?…)

    • …which is not to say you’d treat the client with disrespect, despite the fact that their wishes shouldn’t prevail. What I’m wondering is more whether there’s a career in which your job consists of telling every customer (tactfully) that they are wrong and then respectfully NOT carrying out their desires.

  5. Maybe the lady who does the sample make-up at the MAC counter in the mall. Every friend I’ve ever had who went there has asked for some subtle make-up tips and come out looking like a low-rate “escort” instead.

  6. Human interaction is about managing expectations.
    Most commercial interactions do that with some kind of order system. Challenges come when the customer’s expectations are not met. This is most often due to a failure of the order method to capture the customer’s expectations in a format that the producer understand or meet it the expectation, or a failure somewhere along the production line to generate the understood expectation (either I don’t understand it, or I can’t do it).


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