This fun blog entry "why
the customer is always right is bad", we see a insightful
challenge to this age-old tautology. According to the
article the phrase 'the customer is always right? was originally
coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of Selfridge's
department store in London in 1909, and this thoughtful articles
makes the point that it no longer applies to today's business
The article notes
these reasons why "the customer is always right" is the wrong
approach and makes some very convincing arguments against giving
the customer absolute authority:
It makes employees
It gives abrasive
customers an unfair advantage
Some customers are
bad for business
It results in
worse customer service
Some customers are
just plain wrong
experiences in customer management
As an MBA I spent
several years studying effective business practices and I must
admit that I was always an advocate of "the customer is always
right", and we were taught that it's always cheaper to retain a
customer than it is to find a new customer. Goodwill is a
major factor, and there has been many-a-time when I've bent over
backwards to please an upset customer? The core customer
care issue is simple: How far should you take "the customer is
When you spend huge amounts on
advertising just to attract customers it seems like an unnatural
act to fire them, but sometimes it is the right thing to do.
Sometimes a "bad customer" is just not worth the trouble:
- Back in the early days of the web I helped a fellow design
a web site. When the topic of graphics came up, be
pointed to his wife's gaudy broach and said that he wanted
an image of her jewelry as his home page image because he
really liked the outrageous hunk of costume jewelry.
It looked really stupid, bet hey "the customer is always
right", so I implemented the mess, where you hovered over
the images to get his sub-pages. The customer was
delighted, but he shortly went bankrupt.
Customers - The above articles notes that "the
customer is always right" when some shumck wants a free
trip to Paris because the airline ran out of peanuts, and I
see unreasonable customers all the time. Many customer
don't understand the limits of technology and I'm constantly
getting requests for systems that are only possible in
a Hitler complex - Over the years I've witnessed loads
of otherwise nice people who go crazy when put in a position
of authority (like the kind they get when the customer is
always right). I've seen people shriek at waitresses
and abuse folks at airline counters, often simply because
"they can". Personally, I think that these people feel
powerless inside and take it out on those who serve them.
crack-down on bad customers
Anyone who has ever
been in the service industry knows that some customers are just
plain evil, absurdly stupid and stubborn.
Best Buy has made
a bad customer list, refusing to sell to people with a high
rate of returns.
Filenes - Filene's banned two
sisters from all 21 of its stores last year after the
clothing chain's corporate parent decided they had returned
too many items and complained too often about service.
Fry's - I?ve never been to
Fry's, but numerous articles say that they detain customers
at the door and search their shopping bags, checking items
against the receipts. (I can't believe that this is true
because in most states it's against the law to detain a
customer without formally accusing them of shoplifting).
Wow, just look at some of the customer complaints at
Fry's sucks and about
bad customer care at Fry's.
Firing your unprofitable customers
Sometime in our zeal to give good customer
service we loose track of the bottom line, especially when
customers make unreasonable demands. The trick to firing
customers is not to make them excessively angry.
The old adage ?a customer who gets good
service will tell one person yet a customer who gets bad service
will tell 10 people?. Just take a look at the independent
complaint site "Untied" for
United Airlines. When you decide that a customer is always
wrong, you also risk complaints, and companies with a poor
record of customer care are given ?unsatisfactory?
ratings by the BBB.
The "customer is always right" books:
Angel Customers & Demon Customers
Customer Comes Second"