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Why IS the customer always right?

Updated on September 11, 2011

The fact is, they aren't.

I thought a lot about this while I was working in the sushi restaurant yesterday. I watched the interactions between the waittress and the customer. There are lots of times when the customer assumes the Asian waittresses don't understand English well enough to do things correctly (I know this because they flag me over and say, "I don't think my waittress understood what I wanted..." and proceed to tell me, even though the waittress is either fixing their problem as they speak or explains to me later why she couldn't do what they had asked).

Though the customer isn't always right, however, it's for the sake of the business that they often treat them like they are. Customers will give more money if they are satisfied, and not only that, they'll be sure to tell everyone they know if they were not satisfied, which will affect your business negatively.

Of course, there are times when the customer is right and you don't know because you forgot something or weren't paying attention. For instance, my friend actually got in an argument with a customer while he was an employee at In N Out. She said she wanted a cup for water and he said he gave her one. She said he didn't and he insisted he had until the argument became ridiculous. That is just bad business and should not happen.

However, you don't want to perpetuate bad habits and manners of customers, no matter how much business they give you. Also, you certainly don't want to feel forced into doing something unethical for the sake of the customer, such as taking money out of the register that they insist is truly theirs. Blindly following what a customer says can actually get either or both you and the customer in trouble.

I suppose it depends on the business, as well; in restaurants, people are usually understand that it's not a career of dignity, and monetary success depends upon giving the customer what they want. This goes for hotels too, for which I've also worked. There are other positions, however, that allow more dignity for the employee, such as being a writer; you don't have to cater to what other people want, although that is what some people do after all.

Also, a business will post memos and notes for employees creating clear lines of right and wrong, no matter what a customer says. It's good to set these boundaries to give employees a good idea of what they are there to do. An employee might feel pressured to do what's financially best for a company when it might actually do more harm than good.

Sometimes it's more worth it to give up a business relationship in which you are getting crapped on; there are other customers out there, after all, with more respect for others and more sense, too. It's up to you to choose which line of work to involve yourself in; if it's not right for you and you need to speak up for your rights as an employee and a human, then maybe you should find another job before you spit in that burger.

Because Mocha Sounds Sooo Much Like Frappuccino Coffee Shop | Indiana, USA

The following is an excerpt from the page included in the Links section, "Not Always Right."

Customer: "Hi, I'd like two large strawberries and cream Frappuccinos."

Me: "Alright, anything else with that?"

Customer: "No, that's all."

(I make her drinks and hand them out.)

Customer: "These are cold..."

Me: "You ordered two large strawberries and cream Frappuccinos."

Customer: "Oh! You know what? I actually meant I wanted two large mochas. The hot drinks!"


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    • profile image

      nqo 5 years ago

      wel i stil dnt get this. the consumer is neva RIGHT

    • profile image

      jessa bautista 6 years ago

      your right customer is always customer well always come back to the restaurant.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 7 years ago

      Lovin' your hub - very true points and well written too. I smile (grin and bear it) when the customer isn't being very right.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you all for your comments. Meow, your situation is very tricky because I can see how it would be hard to assume the customer is always right. My profession in public service is kind of half-half: sometimes the residents are right, sometimes they are wrong from what I know. But you can't know everything about a case, so the best thing to do is assume they're right. My boss grilled me when I got after a resident when I was almost positive they were wrong, so I basically have to tell myself that it's my job and I'm getting paid to help these people whether they're right or wrong.

    • meow48 profile image

      meow48 7 years ago from usa

      i am desperately trying to figure out how to improve my customer satisfaction. i am a nurse. my customer is usually wrong... he ate too many sweets and now lies in bed in diabetic come... or he got drunk and crashed his car with several bones broken.. or he scheduled for surgery and wants a drink, can't have it. or he is stable and wants something, but i am busy with other folk who aren't stable and need to take care of them... my management does not really care about the surrounding facts of a complaint anymore. they are now holding the nurse at gunpoint so to speak, while staffing is cut to the bone. need some kind of insight. help.

    • profile image

      AKOTO PHILIP 7 years ago


    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Glassvisage, this is a very good question. Of course, the customer is not always right. Nobody is always right. Each of us make mistakes.

      Treating others with respect includes telling them the truth. It means admitting when we are wrong, but also daring to point out to them when we think they are.

      The key is to focus on the facts, rather than blame the person. As long as we are polite, and don't imply that the person made the mistake on purpose or is bad or incompetent, most people will accept a correction.

    • ledefensetech profile image

      ledefensetech 8 years ago from Cape Girardeau, MO

      The customer is always right because you want them to return to buy from you again. Now if you're just a minimum wage drone, I can understand why you might not think so, but you might change your tune once your employer folds and you're out of a job.

      The customer is always right because you're in the business of supplying something someone wants. Since you have to convince them to buy from you, you don't get anywhere by thinking you're in any way superior to your customer.

      That being said, there is a difference between meeting your customers needs and being a tool and letting a con artist get the better of you. In that case, the con artist isn't your customer, but a criminal who wants to steal from you.

    • ontheway profile image

      ontheway 8 years ago

      why IS the customer always right_

      very good, I support you, come on , welcome to my hub!

    • profile image

      pgrundy 9 years ago

      Ha! Cute hub! I try to kill 'em with kindness by parrotting back their asinine comments verbatim in the sweetest voice I can muster, and then seeing how long it takes for their heads to explode. I am a very sick person, but I do pay my bills.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Good hub, I agree after working with the public most of my life. Yes the saying is right, but there are times, when you need to let them think you agree.

      I have on occasion smiled to the customer and said somthing like we can only do our best. I am trying.

      Good hub.

    • candees profile image

      candees 9 years ago from Arroyo Grande

      Hey girl! How is progress coming on your quest to write for Hubpages... any luck yet?

      As for this article, I've got to say, before I got into marketing I worked as a food service manager for several years. A motto we all used to amuse ourselves with was, "The customer is NOT always right, but their perception is." And that's not even really true, but if you work in that industry, you need to act like it is :(

    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 9 years ago from California

      Ain't that the truth.  I spent a good 7 or so years when I was younger in retail, mostly automotive, but some apparel stores when I was 19/20.  Customers are 95% a joy to work with, 4% irritating, and 1% total A-holes who service folk should be allowed to hit with a stick.  Nice hub.