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04/21/15 – The Customer Is Always..

I don’t know who came up with the phrase “the customer is always right” but I have to say I disagree. Try to stifle your gasps. Perhaps, for larger corporations with ample expendable cash this is practical, but even they have their limits.

Recently, a long time customer came in for a grooming service. When it came time to ring him up, he presented his punch card and asked my employee if she would give him several punches as he had forgotten it previously. Having run into this situation a few days prior, she knew to say sorry but we can only punch when its there. Simple enough right? I heard him announce he was coming to talk to me and I met him at the window. I told him I was sorry but the punches don’t have dates so there was no way to keep track of them.

To be honest, I thought the conversation was over at that point. He was obviously irritated I had said no and said something to my employee I did not overhear except an abrupt “get your shit together!”. I felt bad, but justified in my decision. I had said no to someone several days before (without incident I might add) and was not prepared for double standards. Nor could I afford to; each punch is worth roughly sixty dollars, ten punches gets you a free groom. So he was essentially asking me for $180. It is important to know that if you offer any kind of deal some people will try to push it farther.

Several days later, he called while I was working and left a message with my employee as I was grooming. I called back when I was finished expecting some form of an apology. He immediately began telling me how he had been coming to me for years and that I “sucked $600 a year” from his wallet. It took me a second to realize he was talking about the punch card.

The more he spoke, the more irate he became. He told me I had no customer service and shouted “This is what I do! I’m a fucking marketing coordinator!” I don’t know that marketing and customer service are the same but decided not to point that out. I did manage to get a few words in. I told him I had already said no to someone else and pointed out that you can’t do that with a McDonald’s coffee card. Then came the phrase. That all-encompassing, almighty, self-important phrase: “The customer is always right! Even when they’re wrong they’re right!” At which point, I said the only thing I could think of: “Okay, thanks for calling, bye!” Then hung up the phone.

“Did he apologize?” The girls asked and couldn’t help but laugh.

There are very few things I would apply the word ‘always’ to and customers are no exception. As a customer service agent and a business owner it is important to try to make everyone happy. It is also important to know when to put your foot down to avoid being taken advantage of in the future. Sometimes the customer is a bully.

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