The Customer is Always Right

I’m not sure who coined the phrase “the customer is always right,” but I have to disagree with them. Even when I am the customer, I know that it could be me with the understanding issues. Customer support representatives can certainly tell you about consumers who simply haven’t got a clue. I haven’t had the displeasure to work in the portion of customer service who get only the idiots who aren’t satisfied; and who never will be. Those who seemingly aren’t happy unless they are unhappy or complaining. When I worked in hospitality driving an airport shuttle and acting as bellhop I always took to heart something one of my managers said. “The shuttle driver or bellman is the first and the last representative of the hotel that a guest sees. They provide each guest with their first and the last impressions, the most lasting impressions, of the hotel.” A guest’s positive or negative recollection of their stay can be determined by a single gesture upon their arrival or departure. Now I know that any interaction can be a blessing or a poison, but firsts and lasts always seem to stick. I seldom encountered a guest who’s stay could not be improved by some kind words and a friendly face as they were being chauffeured to the airport for their flight home. Not all customers can be pacified by kind words or, as it turns out, even logic. Many years ago I encountered one of those “always right” customers while working for a sign company. We had a order to put lettering on the front window of a coffee shop. Standard things. The store’s owner had jotted a note with the things he wanted on his window. The store’s logo along with coffee, cappuccino, bagels, pastries and expresso. Being the conscientious designers we corrected the misspelling, cut the vinyl, and installed the graphics and lettering on the front glass of his store. Soon afterward our shop received a call from a very unhappy customer. The coffee shop owner was on the phone to the owner of the sign company and was fuming over the misspelling on his front window. So our boss came in explaining that espresso was spelled wrong on the coffee shop window and asked to see the artwork. We pulled up the files thinking that we missed something. He saw no problems so he went back to the phone. The coffee shop owner was incensed when our boss told him that he didn’t see any spelling errors and that espresso was spelled correctly; with an ‘s’, not an ‘x’. The coffee shop guy then went into a veritable tirade cussing and shouting about how we were “lying about the spelling just so we didn’t have to come out and fix our mistake.” We went out and fixed our “mistake.”

Expresso. Customer: 1, Spell Checker: 0.

Customer: 1, Spell Checker: 0.

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