angry employee

It sounds so strange to say when you’re dealing with customer service and mystery shopping, but there are times when the customer just isn’t right. There are instances wherein bending your will to an unhappy customer will actually do more harm than good because your business model shouldn’t change to accommodate one individual.

Likely you’ve heard the opposite of this your entire business career, but there are distinct reasons why doing so could be detrimental.

Who said “The customer is always right”?

The phrase was originally formulated in 1901 by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the man who founded Selfridge’s department store located in London. This phrase has since become commonplace when trying to convince customers that they will receive the best service possible. However, more often than not, going about your customer service in this way often times leads to worse customer service. Why is that?


1. Employee Happiness = Customer Happiness

Happy employees mean happy customer

Happy Employees Mean A Happy Customer

A good employee means a good customer service reputation, right? When you have an employee that is disgruntled, or doesn’t enact your aspirations as a business, chances are that they are improperly representing your company and therefore hurting your customer service.

A hardworking but unhappy or unappreciated employee may lose respect for ownership. When management is continually undermining the authority of the employee in order to please the customer, that employee will lose their sense of intrinsic motivation to help the business succeed. This loss of intrinsic motivation will lead to a pattern of sub par customer service.

Let’s say you have one customer come and complain about their experience from beginning to end. They may have a legitimate cause to have irritations, but if they are perceptions that stem from having a bad day, they can skew the true meaning.

It’s times like these that you may feel like accommodating them, and giving them everything they ask for. This demeans your employees, and completely overvalues the customer. In a scenario where you listen to the customer, but don’t bend yourself completely, you’ll keep your employee happy because it shows your trust in them. A happy employee will, in turn, treat future customers as you want them to.

You need to have your employees’ backs when dealing with improper clients, because at the end of the day, only one of them is key to the success of your business’ image.

2. Appealing to the ‘wrong’ customer sends the wrong message


An outspoken and irritated customer is always easy to spot, because those who fall into this category often want to let everyone else know that they were displeased with your business. While you shouldn’t ignore complaints, completely changing your tactics to fit that irritated client can speak volumes to your other customers, while also empowering the negativity.

When a customer sees that you’re willing to say “The customer is always right” they will tend to take advantage of the situation. After all, they aren’t wrong, and therefore can trap you into a scenario where you can never please them.

Undivided attention to an upset customer can tell your “good” customers that their opinions don’t matter as much. They offer just as much input, they just typically aren’t as vocal about it. Try not alienate your good customer base for the sake of one bad egg.

Again, it’s best to not ignore irate clients, but rather just try to rein them in as best you can. They aren’t always right, but they can be shown why things are run the way they are run. If the response from them is completely negative, then they aren’t the sort of customer that you need to be reaching out to anyway.

3. Sometimes the customer is wrong!

Assuming that the customer is always right can be seen as one of the biggest betrayals of an employee that a boss can commit. The customer is sometimes just plain wrong. Any business that puts it’s people first will also watch their people put the customer first. This is the best way to achieve good customer service.

The Importance of a Mystery Shopper Program

At Shoppers’ Critique, we’re always trying to find the best way to improve your customer service, and sometimes we want to let you know that the traditional ways of thinking may not be correct. The old phrase “The customer is always right” has good merit, but if taken too literally it can spell disaster for your business and subsequently its customer service reputation.

Always listen to your customers and your employees. A perfect balance of trust and respect between both parties is the best way to have great customer service. If you’re needing an unbiased perspective on your current customer service, call us for some great mystery shopping tools.