Is the customer always right?: Ways to maintain solid customer relations

1115 0

I scrolled through my Twitter one night and came across an interesting video. A lady was ranting and seemed highly provoked by the contents of the video. I got curious and decided to check it out.

The video showed a group of girls in a car, at a restaurant drive-through. They ordered an ice cream cone and in picking it up, one of the girls deliberately decides to grab the ice cream not by its cone like its normally done, but by the cream itself! It seemed like an intentional effort to instigate a dramatic scene because her friend was recording. Here’s the interesting part; the drive-through attendant was furious and as a result threw the rest of the destroyed cone right into their faces.


Going through the comments, one particular comment struck a nerve.  It was something along the lines of “the attendant was wrong for throwing the cone at them because no matter what she’s going through and what they did, the customer is always right. She’s not professional and needs to be fired”. And that had me wondering, is the customer really always right, even when it means they are undermining the quality of your customer service experience by deliberately creating a nuisance?

Working with people is difficult. It can determine whether your business soars through the clouds or falls off the cliff. How you treat your entire business as an entity, can influence your overall customer service experience.

Is the customer really always right?

The term “the customer is always right” is a phrase that was pioneered by Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker and Marshall Field, and even though it is still unclear who exactly came up with the phrase, this notion was used successfully by these men to run their businesses.


Today many businesses live by the “the customer is always right” phrase and even though it is extremely popular, it has lost its true meaning over the years. What it really means is that the customer is important and has to be treated specially- like a king or a god. This is essential in keeping customers because they are now equipped with a very powerful weapon; social media, and can easily either boost or destroy your business in a single post.


But what do you do when you have a few customers that are just never satisfied and nothing you do would change their minds about your business? Every business has a small number of bad customers who do not contribute to the growth or success of the business and cost the business a great deal of money. Customers are important, but you might have to let troublesome customers go.



Always listen before you act

Everyone likes to be heard and understood and customers love this even more. Patience in listening to even the silliest of customer complaints can go a long way to improve your customer service experience. If a customer’s complaints are outrageous, out of context or just plain rude, try to stay mute. Take deep breaths and calm down. Smile and make sure not to avoid eye contact. Tackling some situations head on without listening will aggravate the situation and make either customers or employees even angrier. Always remember that the customer is your first priority, so it’s the customer’s needs first before any other person.  It is your responsibility to clear things up with the customer and leave a good impression about you, your company and its products and services.



Deal with customers according to what they feel, not what they think.

What a customer thinks may be wrong, but what they feel can never be wrong. This is what makes the “customer always right”, because you can’t say someone is wrong for feeling one thing or another. Imagine how it feels to be told how you should be feeling. Annoying right? That’s exactly how it is for customers. Using words such as “You’re getting it all wrong”’ “there’s no way that’s possible” or “who told you that?” are very likely to hurt the feelings of your customers, because no one likes to be told they are wrong. Also, such statements are a direct attack to what they think rather than what they feel.


So, instead of using negative power statements, you can start by expressing how you feel and then use that as a point to correct whatever is making them feel that way. For example, if customers are dissatisfied with a service, owing to certain factors about that service that may have been changed, you can begin by first apologizing to them for the inconvenience. Tell them you understand how they feel, even when you don’t, and then explain why there have been changes. Your customers will know their feelings are being taken into consideration and are justified, but need to be changed because of this or that reason and most likely calm down.


Tackle any situation immediately

When a complaint is made, or a situation arises, make sure to handle it on the spot. The faster a complaint is resolved, the more confidence your customers will have in your company’s services. Look out for quick and simple solutions. If an issue cannot be resolved immediately, explain the situation to your client as clearly as possible and assure them that it will be resolved in due time and possibly give a specific time or date to calm them down. If they are still not satisfied, you might want to ask them what they think would be the ideal situation and work with that if you can.


Stand firm

Sometimes, a customer is wrong, no matter where you look at it from. These types of customers are mostly very rude in such situations or just create a nuisance. In such situations, you need to be assertive and get your message across in a very firm but polite fashion. State the details of the situation clearly and confidently especially if what they are doing or saying are factually wrong or go against the rules of the company. Also, make it a point to back up your colleagues when they find themselves in similar situations. That way, you can count on getting their support back.

Deal with the aftermath and support teammates after an encounter

Dealing with problems from customers is a very stressful experience, so it is important to take time off to calm yourself afterwards. Remind yourself that not all customers are that way and cheer up, especially if you’re able to resolve the situation as expected. It is also important to analyse the situation and keep an eye out to see whether it reflects a major problem or if it keeps recurring. Report to your manager if you feel the situation is worrying, beyond your control or recurring.

Remember to follow up on the customer, even if you know it might not be a pleasant experience. Make sure to have the correct information about the problem and seek advice where needed before doing so. This should help to boost your confidence.


If you’re a manager, check up on your employees who deal with rude customers to be sure they are okay. Be sure to give them your support because even though customers are important, you have a greater responsibility to your people. Supporting their well-being especially in such difficult times will go a long way in determining your company’s long-term success.

Choose the right time to discuss what happened to ensure you have the full details. Find out if there’s anything that needs to be addressed. Give tips and ensure they are well- equipped to deal with a recurrence of the situation. If they need training, make sure they get it.