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Is the Customer Always Right? Learn The Right Approach in 2023

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The adage “the customer is always right” has long been a guiding principle in customer service. However, it’s time to revisit this age-old mantra in the modern era. Industry experts recognize that while customer satisfaction is paramount, it doesn’t necessarily equate to the customer always being right. Navigating the increasingly complex customer engagement landscape requires a nuanced approach that balances customer needs with business realities.

This piece will explore contemporary perspectives on the principle, shedding light on the most effective strategies to manage customer interactions in today’s market.

Is the customer always right?


The short answer is no. Customers aren’t always right, but their needs and wants should be addressed. Customer satisfaction is essential in any successful business, but it’s important to recognize the limits of this adage.

Sometimes, a customer may make unreasonable demands or behave abusively to staff members. This behavior restricts a business from providing the best possible customer service and should not be tolerated. On the other hand, a customer may also make valid requests that are outside a company’s business goals or capabilities. In this situation, finding a compromise that satisfies both parties is essential.

Exploring the concept of “The customer is always right.”

In the past, customer service professionals have been taught to prioritize customer satisfaction at all costs. This can present several problems, such as customers taking advantage of friendly policies and expecting unreasonable outcomes from disputes or requests. A more balanced approach must be taken for companies to stay competitive and profitable.

The modern perspective on this principle is that while meeting customer expectations is essential, a business should also consider its interests. Companies should be flexible when appropriate and strive to provide the best possible outcome for all parties involved.

Where did the phrase “the customer is always right” come from?

Tracing the origins of the phrase and its historical context

This age-old adage. “The customer is always right” has its roots in 1909 from Harry Gordon Selfridge , Marshall Field, and John Wanamaker. Another variation of the phrase attributed to César Ritz is “Le client n’a jamais tort,” meaning that the customer is never wrong.

The context in which this phrase arose was that of the Industrial Revolution. During this time, companies focused on increasing production and cutting costs to maximize profits. The customer was seen as an afterthought, and companies rarely addressed customer complaints or provided a high level of service.

How it became a popular customer service mantra

At the turn of the 20th century, business-minded individuals like Selfridge began to realize the importance of customer satisfaction. This led them to adopt and popularize “the customer is always right” to emphasize the importance of providing excellent customer service.

The phrase quickly became a famous customer service mantra, and it still holds some relevance today. Due to the rise of competition in the market, businesses are now focusing more on providing quality customer service. Thus there is an increased emphasis on understanding and meeting customer demands.

Reasons why the customer is always right

The customer isn’t always right. But there are still good reasons for businesses to prioritize customer satisfaction when possible.

The most obvious reason is that happy customers are likelier to repeat purchases and recommend a business to others. This leads to increased profits and can help a company grow over time.

Moreover, satisfied customers tend to be more loyal and emotionally connected to a brand. This increases their engagement with the product or service and allows businesses to nurture long-term customer relationships.

Finally, attentive customer service can boost employee morale by showing them their work is valued. Providing quality customer service requires a team effort and is an excellent way for staff members to collaborate in achieving common goals.

Are there situations where the customer may not be right?

There are situations where the customer may not be correct. For instance, if a customer behaves inappropriately or abrasive, it’s essential to set boundaries and remain professional. This will ensure that staff members are treated respectfully while protecting the business from legal repercussions .

In some cases, customers may make unreasonable requests or demand special treatment beyond the scope of what a business can provide or should be expected to deliver. In this situation, the best action is to find a compromise that satisfies both parties.

It’s also important to remember that customer satisfaction isn’t always valued above all else. A company must consider its overall needs and goals, even if it means disappointing customers. This doesn’t mean they should disregard customer satisfaction, but businesses must always be aware of the balance between customer needs and their interests.

Pros and cons of “The customer is always right”

The customer is always right, but the phrase has pros and cons. Here are some of them:


  • Customers are more loyal and engaged.
  • Increased profits due to repeat customers.
  • Enhanced staff morale from successful customer service.


  • Unreasonable expectations or demands can be difficult to satisfy.
  • Customers may take advantage of friendly policies.
  • Companies must balance customer needs with their own business goals.

How important is customer satisfaction in business?

customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is critical in business. Companies must strive to meet customer needs while remembering their interests and goals. This requires a nuanced approach that balances customer satisfaction with business realities.

According to a recent study , 81% of customers attribute repeat purchases to a positive customer service experience. 70% of customers also make purchasing decisions based on the quality of customer service. Moreover, an impressive 64% of businesses report a noticeable boost in sales due to excellent customer service.

These numbers demonstrate the importance of excellent customer service in today’s market. Companies should do all they can to ensure customer satisfaction while remembering that the customer isn’t always right.

How can businesses balance customer satisfaction with fairness to employees?

Businesses must ensure that customer satisfaction isn’t prioritized at the expense of their employees. This means ensuring staff members are treated respectfully and fairly, even when dealing with demanding customers.

Employees should also be given clear instructions on responding to inquiries and complaints. They should receive training on handling customer interactions professionally and understanding the company’s expectations. A clear set of guidelines and policies will help ensure customer service is provided ethically and consistently.

It’s also important to reinforce positive behavior from employees with rewards or recognition. This can help motivate staff members to provide excellent customer service while reinforcing the importance of fairness to all parties involved.

Businesses should create an atmosphere where customer service and employee fairness are valued equally. This can be achieved through regular communication and feedback and by demonstrating a commitment to ethics in all business areas. By doing so, businesses can ensure customer satisfaction is balanced with fairness to customers and staff members.

What strategies can businesses use to handle difficult customer situations?

Different strategies may be used, depending on the situation. Setting boundaries and remaining professional is essential if a customer behaves abusively or makes unreasonable demands. Reiterating company policies can help steer the conversation back on track and ensure customers know their limits. Managers should be brought in to defuse any heated exchanges calmly if necessary.

When a customer makes valid requests that are not in line with a company’s business goals or capabilities, finding a compromise should be the focus. Exploring different options and providing realistic solutions can go a long way toward resolving any dispute.

Ultimately, businesses must remain empathetic and understanding while considering their interests. This requires considering all parties’ needs and striving for a fair outcome.

How can businesses foster positive relationships with customers?

positive relationships with customers

Fostering positive relationships with customers starts with providing quality customer service. Companies should focus on understanding and meeting customer needs while finding solutions that benefit all parties involved.

Businesses can also create loyalty programs to reward customers for their repeat purchases. This will show appreciation for their patronage and increase engagement with the product or service.

Finally, businesses should strive to remain responsive and communicate regularly with customers. This can be achieved through social media, email campaigns, or personalized messages. Doing so will show customers their feedback is valued and help build a strong relationship.


The phrase “the customer is always right” has existed for over a century. While it still contains some truth, it’s essential to recognize the limitations of this adage in today’s market. Companies must take a nuanced approach to customer service that balances customer satisfaction with business goals and employee fairness.

By employing these strategies, businesses can nurture positive customer relationships and prioritize customer satisfaction without compromising their interests. In doing so, companies can stay competitive and profitable in the contemporary market.

Ultimately, providing quality customer service requires a team effort. Companies must commit to fostering collaboration between customers and staff members to achieve success over time. This will help ensure that customer satisfaction remains the top priority. Customer service can be a powerful tool for businesses in today’s market when done right.


Why is the customer always right?

The thinking behind the phrase “the customer is always right” is that by providing excellent customer service, businesses can increase profits, loyalty, and engagement with their product or service. This also helps motivate staff members to provide quality customer service and collaborate in achieving company goals.

What if the customer is wrong?

If a customer is wrong, businesses should handle the situation professionally and strive to find a compromise that satisfies both parties. It’s important to remember that customer satisfaction isn’t always valued above all else, and companies must consider their overall needs and goals when making decisions, even if it means disappointing a customer.

What is an example of the customer is always right?

An example of the customer is always right would be a company providing an extra discount for a customer who experienced a negative issue with their product or service. This shows the company is willing to go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.

Who said the customer is always right?

The phrase “the customer is always right” was popularized by people like Harry Gordon Selfridge, Marshall Field, and John Wanamaker at the turn of the 20th century. Another variation of the phrase attributed to César Ritz is “Le client n’a jamais tort,” meaning that the customer is never wrong.

How do you deal with a rude customer?

When dealing with a rude customer, it’s essential to remain professional and set boundaries. Be courteous while avoiding any confrontational language. Knowing the company’s policies on handling customer interactions is also essential. If the situation escalates, referring them to a manager for further assistance may be best.

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