North Texas Daily

Customer satisfaction should not come at the expense of employee sanity

Customer satisfaction should not come at the expense of employee sanity

Customer satisfaction should not come at the expense of employee sanity
July 01
14:00 2022

It’s no secret that many customer service employees are treated horribly at their jobs, but the constant beratement of these essential workers by customers has to stop. The customer is not always right.

The golden rule has always been “treat others the way you want to be treated.” It extends to adults, to kindergarteners, but most importantly, it also extends to customer service workers. The frequency in which employees hear lines like “I could do your job better than you,” or “I’m right because my money is what pays you” is nearly immeasurable. 

The phrase “The customer is always right” is intended to guide employees to work in the best interest of not only their employer but also the consumer. It gains the customer’s trust and keeps them coming back for more. Maybe that works sometimes — but not always. The phrase has become a way for consumers to mentally, emotionally and most drastically, physically abuse employees.

At numerous food service jobs, employees are told to just follow what their customer says and go by their rule. This leads to customers complaining about a meal after eating the entire thing just for the sake of a refund or even threatening service workers for being out of certain dishes.

Customer-driven abuse is horrible for employees and businesses overall. Entitled customers who treat workers horribly make quitting seem like the only escape from the disrespect. With a labor shortage already affecting the U.S., companies cannot afford to keep losing employees at the hands of whiny customers.

These customers assume the power they hold for 30 minutes over an employee extends to a sense of dominance over people in their day-to-day life. The phrase “Being a Karen” comes to mind when thinking of customers who put themselves first and hold steadfast to the idea of “my way or the highway.”

These are the type of customers who complain when an employee does not look at them the “right way,” does not address them immediately or has them wait in line with other patrons. The customers who put themselves before others often try to get employees in trouble with higher-ups due to miscommunication and overreactions, resulting in a net loss for everyone but them.

The mindset that drives these overreactions is often what drives parents to blame teachers when their child underperforms on a test or the drivers who go on foul-mouthed tangents about being cut off on the road instead of seeking accountability inward.

This isn’t to say the idea of the customer always being right can’t be beneficial. It can encourage good work and give customers a reason to keep coming back to establishments for more.

Granted, under those circumstances, customers are still respectful in their approach to be correct. Not backseat training, not berating but simply asking questions and being a kind human being.

Many people are guilty of assuming the role of an entitled customer, whether it’s by sending back an incorrectly made meal or asking for a last-minute commission from a local artisan. From the outside, it seems like these things are convenient for us, but for those that have to process requests and face the consequences for a mistake, it can be a huge hassle. 

The quote that became a service industry motto easily became a manifesto for modern customers to abuse customer service employees, and it must stop. Managers and store leads must stand up for their employees and fight the urge to bend to rude customers’ will. Sometimes, the customer is just plain wrong.

Featured Illustration by Cuinn Cornwell

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Lauryn Barron

Lauryn Barron

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