The Customer is Always Right… Right?

Is the Customer Always Right? You have heard the saying “The customer is always right.” The classic golden rule of customer service. Also, the most debated and misunderstood rule in the industry too.

The History

The phrase “The customer is always right” was most probably invented in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of a department store in London. It was immediately adopted by other businesses and used as a standard. The point of this rule was to advocate for giving weight to customers’ complaints and feedback. To emphasize the importance of satisfying customers. At the time, the rule was a breath of fresh air and seen as a significant innovation in customer service.


From the businesses point of view, excellent customer service should be the essence of any business seriously treating it’s clients. Business owners and managers must take all initiatives to make customers happy and to fulfil their needs. Customers’ feedback and complaints should be of utmost priority to the business. Does it mean for companies that the customers are always right?

From some of the customers’ perspectives, they are. However, according to the “real world” and policies, there may be some discrepancies…

Complaining Customer vs Support

Sometimes customers make mistakes, they get confused, misunderstand something, or let’s face it – some even lie. They make demands that are impossible to meet. If that doesn’t work, they resort to straight-on blackmail. They’ve misread a policy, and they want customer service to fix it for them because “they know they’re right, and you guys did it wrong, and they want you to fix it”.

Still, support agents know the policies. And when it’s obvious that the clients are incorrect- what the customer service can do? Seemingly, the simplest answer would be just to tell them they’re incorrect. But obviously, the support agent shouldn’t say to the customer “No, you are wrong”. Especially to the ones who are sure that they are always right.

The best way is to politely explain, and help them to understand that what they are asking is impossible. The support agents’ role is conveying to them in a fair, “cool-headed” way what are the policies that they are governed by. In most cases, such discussions end without a battle and with an understanding. There’s always a “BUT”, though…

There Are Unreasonably, Permanently Disgruntled Customers

Every business experiences its share of grudging customers, who, whatever might be done to meet their needs, will continue to complain. Making problems with no real reasons, or, even rude customers are unavoidable when doing business. Very often, disgruntled customers involve a very high quantity of a company resources. Let’s not forget that it all adds to the employees stress levels and wear away their spirits. 

When trying to micromanage every single request from those unreasonable clients who are draining your company resources, you may lose traction with the other customers. That’s why, it is sometimes sensible to lose a customer to protect the company and its workforce. Not to mention, other clients who actually need help and deserve it. The truth is, not all customers are indispensable and businesses must accept that. It’s impossible to keep doing business with all of them. Getting rid of bad customers might cost a little profit, but it’s healthier in the long-term goals of the business.

So, Is the Customer Always Right?

People are unique. We all have different tastes in sports, fashion, food or cars. It’s just impossible to satisfy every customer’s needs. So, what’s my final thought? Customer is always right, unless there’s signs of abuse of your business. It’s never easy or pleasant but sometimes losing those difficult clients pays off for everyone. When they are gone, you’ll have more time and resources to focus on your other clients.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

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Brought to you by PeepSo Team Chris Jaworski
My very first contact with computers and programming was in the 1980s, while getting my Masters of Engineering degree. Despite the fact that most of my past professional experience was more “analog engineering”, I find the skills obtained there (analytical thinking, problem solving, general understanding of technology) very useful in the digital era.

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@peepso_user_15191(Pat Cherubini)
Bend over backwards for your customers but not forward.