The Customer Is Not Always Right


To say “the customer is always right” is to prioritise customer satisfaction. And while it is important to keep the customers happy, there are problems when this motto is taken to the extremes. Here are some reasons why the customer is not and cannot always be correct:


The customer is asking for something that cannot or should not be done

Whether it is a customer who has come in after operating hours demanding to be served, or one who refuses to abide by the alcohol or smoking laws that your premises have, or even someone requesting for a dish that is not on your menu, the essence is the same: the customer is not correct, and there is no need to bend over backwards to give in.

While the “best case” scenario would just have your staff incredibly inconvenienced, the worst case could involve legal action taken against your F&B outlet! Which leads us to the next point…


It encourages bad behaviour to continue

You might think you’ll give in just once to the customer, but what happens if that person comes back and expects special treatment a second time, or a third, or a fourth? And what happens if they are met with a new member of staff who does not know about the accommodations you’ve previously made and does not think the same concessions should be given? Or what if other customers see and expect the same treatment?

Each time you give in you allow the behaviour to perpetuate, making it harder to change it in the long run.


It undervalues staff

There will no doubt be times that your staff make mistakes and apologies to customers are due. However, to continuously pander to the customer – especially if the customer is being unreasonable – can be detrimental to staff morale. To continuously demonstrate that the customer is more important than your staff will likely breed resentment within your team – so be careful when you choose who to give in to!


It is bad for business in the long-run

Resentful staff that do not feel valued may become unproductive and eventually quit, which means you will have the hassle of hiring and training a new team. Continued discounts to customers can erode your profit margins and continuous flouting of rules about when alcohol can be sold or where one can smoke can result in your operations being banned.

At the end of the day, keeping customers happy is indeed an important part of surviving in the F&B industry, but knowing how to manage customer expectations may be the key to helping a business thrive.

  • San Wah Shum

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