The Customer Is {Not} Always Right

I’m obsessed with great customer service.

Maybe its because I’ve spent years of my life as an international flight attendant.

Or, most likely, it’s because truly outstanding customer service is a reflection of our best humanity: honesty, vulnerability, generosity, forgiveness and ultimately — love.

Most of us have a one dimensional perspective of customer service because we’re so used to telling the world how businesses treat us through comments and reviews.

Have you considered how businesses would rate YOU as their customer?

Imagine if businesses began publicly rating you on things like:

  • Your attitude towards staff

  • Whether or not you stick to your agreements to pay on time

  • Your willingness to follow instructions and read the fine print

This article is challenging that old adage “the customer is always right”

As a business owner who loves to give amazing customer service, I can proudly say that 99.2% of my clients are superstars— they are angels and I love them SO much.

However, .8% of my clients who happen to find their way into my office are total PITAs.

Regardless of that, I bend over backward to shower them with love but eventually I do show the PITAs the way that I feel by kindly but firmly showing them the door. Not being callous here, but when I overdeliver on kindness and customer service and people still behave completely disrespectful towards me— I’m not having it.

Which brings me to this question:

Does thinking the customer is always right make you act all kinds of wrong?

To help you answer that, here are the top 3 things that you and I have probably done to be not-so-cool customers.

1. Not reading the fine print

Not reading the fine print is the number one move that turns us into PITA. I’ve gotta admit that when I’ve done this in the past, it always came back to bite me in the tuckus. Whether it’s terms of service, guarantees or factory warranties honestly ask yourself how often you’ve actually read these documents. Just because the print is small doesn’t mean the rules don’t apply. These days the print isn’t so small because companies want you to read their policy.

2. Nonpayment

This one hurts the most because it’s pretty much stealing from a business. Things get worse from here when you have to track someone down for nonpayment because they’re now robbing your time and energy along with the money. The worst!

3. Putting the ‘B’ in “ITCH”

This one really fires me up because it costs absolutely nothing to be pleasant. We are all humans here. With that said, you never know what someone else is dealing with. So what's the point of being mean?

If we want better service, then it’s time for us to be better customers.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate yourself as a customer?

If you’re anything less than a 7, what’s something you can change to be a better customer?

Technology is changing the way customers interact with businesses. Let’s look at Uber for example. Passenger can leave reviews about their driver and drivers can leave reviews about their passenger. Once a driver leaves a passenger a bad review, it will be difficult for passengers to get a ride.

It’s exciting to see the possibility of technology helping us collectively hold ourselves to a higher standard. Especially when things don’t go the way we expect.

Perhaps the concept of customer ratings will encourage us to take a moment to pause and operate with more kindness and compassion towards each other.

While this is a fun conversation to have in the context of business and technology, it’s even more fascinating to me that we are being inspired to be better humans.

Thanks as always for reading!


Dania Bernard