For your business, when the customer isn’t right

A woman who frequented Southwest flew and was consistently disappointed in every aspect of Southwest’s operations. She was known as “Pen Pal”, because she submitted a complaint after each flight.

She was unhappy with the lack of assigned seats by the company; she did not like the lack of a first-class section; Southwest’s boarding process didn’t appeal to her; and she didn’t like Southwest’s casual attire and sporty uniforms.

Southwest’s customer service representatives were momentarily baffled by her last letter. She recited a list of complaints. They redirected it to Herb [Kelleher CEO of Southwest] with a note: “This one’s yours.”

Kelleher replied in sixty seconds and said, “Dear Mrs. Crabapple. We will miss your.” Love, Herb. ‘”

Businesses often use the phrase “The customer always wins” because Harry Gordon Selfridge, who founded Selfridge’s department store, in London, in 1909.

Customers will be convinced that they will receive good service from this company

Encourage employees to provide excellent service for customers

This maxim is being abandoned by more businesses, which ironically leads to poor customer service.

These are the top five reasons “The customer is always correct” is false.

1: It makes employees unhappy

Gordon Bethune, a brash Texan (as Herb Kelleher is, coincidentally), is most well-known for turning around Continental Airlines “From Worst To First,” a tale he wrote in 1998. He wanted customers and employees to love the way Continental treated them.

He would always support his employees in conflicts between employees or customers. Here is how he describes it:

Our loyalty is with our employees when we encounter customers we can’t reel in. This is what they have to endure every day. You don’t have the right to abuse our employees just because you bought a ticket. . .

Each month, we run over 3 million people through our records. Some of those people will be unreasonable and demanding jerks. If you have to choose between supporting your employees who work hard every day to make your product great or a snide jerk demanding a Paris ticket for peanuts, which side will you be on?

Your employees shouldn’t be treated like slaves. They must be valued. . . Resentment can be caused by customers thinking you don’t support them when they are out of line.

Bethune puts his trust in his people rather than unreasonable customers. This attitude balances customers and employees. Bethune claims that the “always right” maxim favors the customer.

There are many examples of poor customer service from employees. It is counterproductive to try and solve the problem by declaring that the customer is always right.

2: It gives customers who are abrasive an unfair advantage

The slogan “The customer always is right” can be used to describe abusive customers. They are right, by definition. This makes it more difficult for employees to control their behavior.

It also means that abusive people are treated better than normal people. This was always a problem to me. It makes more sense to be kind to customers in order to keep them coming back.

3. Some customers can be bad for your business

Many businesses believe that more customers is better. Some customers can be very bad for businesses.

ServiceGruppen, a Danish IT service provider, proudly shares this story:

A service technician arrived on the site of a customer to perform a maintenance task. He was shocked at how rudely treated by the customer.

After completing the task, he returned to the office and told the management about it. The customer was immediately removed from the contract.

ServiceGruppen fired a bad client, just like Kelleher dismissed an angry lady who kept complaining (but kept flying on Southwest). It was not about a financial calculation. It wasn’t about whether the customer would make or lose money in the long-term. It was simply a matter of respecting and dignity, and treating their employees well.

4. It leads to poor customer service

Rosenbluth International, an international corporate travel agency, went even further. Hal Rosenbluth, CEO of Rosenbluth International, wrote an excellent book on their approach called Put the Customer Second – Let your people be first and see them kick it butt.

Rosenbluth believes that customers are better served when employees are put first. Employees will be happier at work if you put them first. Happy employees provide better customer service.

They are more concerned about their customers than they are about themselves.

They have more energy

They are happier, which makes them more enjoyable to interact with and talk to.

They are more motivated

However, if the company and its management stand with customers rather than with employees, it sends out a clear message:

The employees are not valued

It is important to treat employees fairly

Customers have the right to respect employees.

Customers expect employees to be patient with them

This attitude can lead to employees losing interest in service. This attitude makes it almost impossible to provide good service. Customers can only hope for fake good service. The kind you know is corteous at the surface.

5: Some customers just don’t get it.

Herb Kelleher is also in agreement, as shown in this passage from Nuts! The excellent book on Southwest Airlines is a must-read:

Herb Kelleher […] insists that his employees are always first, even when it means he has to dismiss customers. Aren’t customers right all the time? Kelleher snaps, “No, they’re not.” “I think that’s the greatest betrayal of employees a boss could commit.” Sometimes the customer is wrong. These customers are not our customers. We write to them and tell them, “Fly someone else.” Don’t abuse people. Lottery Where as You Could’ve Gone For Raising the Heck Out of Your Term Life .