‘THE customer is always right’ is a slogan that has been around for over 100 years.
And it needs to go.
It has changed us. We are now less because of it.
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And it is getting worse.
Created in an era where the prevailing theory about customer service was ‘buyer beware’, the idea that a customer’s complaint could be handled in a way where that customer did not feel cheated or deceived naturally enjoyed a rapid increased in popularity.
After all, this was a time where misrepresentation was rife, where buyers had to indeed beware of the myriad ways a business or company could cheat them out of their money.
Fast forward to present day and we have evidently made an over correction.
Now, obviously it is not fair for either a company or a customer to be dishonest in any exchange.
Yet it happens. And always will.
But what frightens me far more than the occasional swindler is the effect this slogan has had over our collective society over the past century.
Like a spoilt child that has heard over and over that they are a beautiful and unique snowflake capable of doing anything and everything they want when they want, when some ordinary everyday people become ‘customers’ they turn into the most obnoxious of humanity.
They stamp and stomp and huff and puff.
They threaten to end their patronage for all time should their (completely unrealistic) expectations not be met immediately, more often than not wanting something for the trouble of having to actually make the threat in the first place.
And their ranks are increasing by the day.
It is interesting to note that even as early as 1914 there was a school of thought around which highlighted the inherent danger in placing so much trust in the customer.
This theory recognised that customers could be dishonest, could have unrealistic expectations or use the product in ways that void the guarantee.
You see, the axiom only works if both parties act as normal, friendly human beings.
So long as they are being reasonable, rational people then a customer is well within their rights to attempt to improve their experience.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the notion that people may be able to get things for free or be treated with special treatment, rational people become absolutely insufferable.
Maybe it is time to return to the days of Buyer Beware, if only to recognise what the system we had was attempting to accomplish but failed so miserably to achieve.
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