OPINION: No, the customer is not always right

Macie Batson, Senior Staff Writer

Today’s service workers are increasingly being treated like crap. Why? To me, it appears that there is a power struggle going on, in which customers, particularly those who have never worked in customer service, believe that service workers are inferior to them, making them easy targets for their rage.

To be blunt, the customer knows absolutely nothing about whatever they believe they know about your job. You were the one that was trained, you know the rules, you know the customs, and you most likely know what is right and wrong in the scenarios at hand. Have they read the manual? No. Have they been behind the cash register? No. And, finally, were they the ones who hired you? No.

With all of this in mind, there is no possible way that the customer can always be right, simply because they do not have the same knowledge of the way the establishment works the way that us service workers do. While customer complaints, whatever they may be, should be treated seriously and fairly, service workers are often abused with this ideal that is considered to be a “good practice.”

My interest in expressing this was sparked by, you guessed it, my current occupation as a manager in the service industry. I regularly witness bad customers and have been a victim of their abuse. To be honest, it’s difficult not to cry, scream, and yell all at once. It’s truly incomprehensible to me that people are capable of treating someone who is only there to help with condescension. As a manager, I make it a point to remain calm and prioritize my coworkers and employees in situations involving obstinate customers, not only because they are people I care about, but also because no one deserves to be treated the way some people treat service workers.

Some customers, I hate to say it, but particularly the older generation, will treat employees, especially those who are younger, as if they are not actual people. Whether the employee is right or not, the frequent outbursts from customers that we service workers witness on a daily basis are completely unnecessary and immature, and that enough makes them wrong.

Customers can be wrong. It is just a fact. Customers will be wrong, and when they are, they will sometimes act rude and violent and go as far as to threaten the employee. So, if management sides with these sorts of customers, it will almost certainly leave a bad taste in the employee’s mouth, leading to the conclusion that there is a lack of confidence in them and, in turn, decrease retention within that company. Employees need to feel supported first and foremost; there needs to be an established trust there, and then you can address customer complaints as a team.

We should not be blamed for mistakes or misunderstandings as a result of this phrase. To prioritize the customer over the employees is harmful. It shows them that they are not as valuable as the profit the customer provides. Sometimes, not all customers are worth keeping.