Harry Gordon, founder of a departmental store outlet in London first coined and used the term ‘The customer is always right’ back in the year 1909 (Kjerulf, 2014). Yes, the business has been founded and consequently operates on the premise of its ability to serve the needs of the customer. However, the core and basis of this slogan does not hold. The customer may be at the heart of the business but they are not always right. Most hospitality companies, especially in the hotel and travel industry have had to shed this premise the hard way, sometimes rubbing some few customers the wrong way but it still remains the best approach to take. There are a number of different reasons that are relevant to hospitality and service delivery which serve to illustrate that this tag line is not correct.
While the customer is an important part of the business and the basis upon which it thrives, the greatest asset in a business still remains to be the employee. When a business is presented with a situation where they need to choose between pleasing a disgruntled customer and the welfare of the employee, most often, if not always, it is the welfare of the employee that would come first. The customer would be best served and their cares met when the employee is well catered and treated with dignity and respect (Page, 2015). Consequently, they are able to transfer this same appeal towards their service to the customer. On the contrary, focus on the customer at the cost of the employee would end up creating an adverse effect on the value and quality of service that is delivered to the customer. In this sense, it is always best to keep the employee happy because their loyalty is key.
In some cases, the customer may be unfairly abrasive and unreasonable in their demands. The hospitality sector is an industry that would provide services to multiple customers with the aim of generating value and return in the process. For instance, a low cost airline such as continental established and leveraged on service in order to generate return. They were able to provide low cost tickets by cutting on some inflight luxuries and changing some of the processes conventionally associated with the operations in an airline. However, not all customers may find this approach good to them, especially in sight of the benefits that the airline needs to shed in order to tenably support this low cost model (DeMeyers, 2014). In such cases, customers that give blatant demands that do not fit within this cost model are not just seeking unfair advantage they are bad for business. In such a scenario, the demands elicited by the customer do not fit within the cost model and service capacity of the entity and cannot be right.
In other further cases, the customers are just plain wrong. This state may result in a case where the customer has an ideology that does not fit within the organizational policy consequently resulting in negative appeal in the face of the other customers or they just are not experts in the field within which the company is operating and for which they are trying to make an unfounded argument (Hyken, 2014). An illustration is a hotel customer who would want to blast music in their room or use it for drugs because that is what they want to do. From a personal account, I was once required to deter such a customer who wished to willfully cause disturbance on the guise of personal space. This encounter was not just intrusive to the other customers, but also bothering in the course of execution. In this sense, the behavior or actions did not fit socially with policy and the welfare of our company or that of other customers around. The customer is not always right unless their actions and view fit within the organization’s framework.
DeMeyers, J. (2014). No, The Customer Is Not Always Right. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/09/02/no-the-customer-is-not-always-right/#3ef82fef4412
Hyken, S. (2015). Your Customers Are Not Always Right, But They Are Always the Customer. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2015/02/26/your-customers-are-not-always-right-but-they-are-always-the-customer/#7182ff535cef
Kjerulf, A. (2014). Top 5 Reasons Why ‘The Customer Is Always Right’ Is Wrong. Huff Post. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexander-kjerulf/top-5-reasons-customer-service_b_5145636.html
Page, B. (2015). 3 Reasons Why the Customer Is Always Right … Is Wrong. Bubba Page. https://www.inc.com/bubba-page/3-reasons-why-the-customer-is-always-right-is-wrong.html