If I ever have the opportunity to go back in time, one of the stops I’d like to make will be the late 1800s to Marshall Field and Company to speak to Mr. Field and Gordon Selfridge.
These are the men who came up with the “brilliant” slogan “the customer is always right.”
I would like to slap them both. Hard. Possibly with some sort of iron skillet.
I never cease to find myself overwhelmed with awe when someone blithely rattles off that little tidbit of “knowledge” in the present day.
Why has this particular slogan persisted for over a century? And why has the consumer populace latched on to it and carried it with them from generation to generation — but more interestingly — to businesses that never adopted the slogan?
Seriously? No one comes in here and argues with me that special orders aren’t supposed to upset me. Or expects me to beat any competitor’s price, or take their coupons, or get their nails done in 30 minutes or less or else they’re free. (Albeit, Domino’s doesn’t make that promise anymore either.)
Point is, “the customer is always right” was a slogan specific to a particular business. I understand why customers want it to be axiomatic. I understand why they persist in insisting on applying the notion even when they must, somehow, deep inside, know that they are talking out their butts.
I just don’t really understand why businesses have, for 150 years, let customers bully them into telling them how to run their businesses — sometimes into the ground.
Obviously, this is neither my philosophy nor my policy. I’m all for good customer service, but customer service is not synonymous with letting them walk all over you. It’s a darn shame so many people think otherwise.