We have created a small theater complex called “Customer Service Cinema” to illustrate our radical position on customer service.
Customer Service Cinema is comprised of two theaters that are identical with one exception. One theater operates under the axiom “The Customer Is Always Right” (CIAR) and the other under the axiom “The Customer Is NOT Always Right” (CINAR).
If you choose the CIAR screen, you will encounter customers who think as you do. One or two of them have brought laser pointers and a few will text and talk on their phones – all while the movie is playing. Expect to have at least one cell phone ring and to be answered. The person answering may even talk loud enough that you can share in every detail of their call. While there may be a few empty seats in the middle of the theater, when you asked about sitting in those seats you were told those seats were “taken”. Only after the movie started and you look back from your front row seat do you realize they were “taken” by the coats of the people in the seats next to them. You should also expect that someone about three rows behind you has seen the movie enough times that they are able to deliver key lines just a few seconds ahead of the actors in the movie. And they do so through the entire movie.
On the other hand, if you visit the CINAR screen you will find something quite different. Laser pointers, text messaging, cell phone conversations, and talking during the movie are not allowed nor tolerated. Patrons are not allowed to reserve seats. Theater staff enforces these rules. The first time you deliver lines others will shush you. The next time the theater staff will ask you to leave. If you do manage to get tossed, you will not be given a refund.
Which theater would you prefer?
I have yet to have a single customer tell me that they would prefer to attend the CIAR Theater. Most are actually adamant that they would want to attend the CINAR Theater and there is usually an “Aha” moment when they realize the insanity behind the axiom, “The Customer Is Always Right”.
As a business owner, I have tried to follow “The Customer Is Always Right” approach for too many years. It has been a no-win proposition for thousands of good customers, hundreds of well-intentioned and hard-working employees, and for me. We have all suffered because I tried to serve what more and more has become the lowest common denominator.
With every fiber of my being, I do not believe that the customer is always right. I believe that the customer is always served. For some requests the answer will be no and for some it will be a resounding and unapologetic “No!” Most customers applaud this approach. You can probably guess which ones do not.
As a business operator who represents the interests of my good customers, my good employees, and my own sanity, I respectfully ask anyone who believes that the customer is always right to take their business elsewhere. I promise that I am not changing my position no matter how much you voice your dissatisfaction with my approach.