The Golden Rule That Is Really Fool’s Gold
"The customer is always right."
Does this statement infuriate anyone else? Can you think of several different examples in recent memory where it isn’t true at all? Does this sound like it was written by an attorney for every one of our customers?
Recently, a good friend of mine who owns a couple of quick service food establishments had a disturbing story for me about a particular customer. The customer ordered food specifically without cheese, so the item was made without cheese and served to him. The problem came when the customer returned with the majority of the item eaten, claiming it was supposed to have cheese, and asked for another one. Believe it or not, this wasn’t the first time this gentleman had done this.
The manager went back and reviewed some reports and video footage. He realized that this customer had done this every week for over a month. Same game every time. He told his team to be on the watch for the gentleman and when one of his team members spotted him and took his order, it played out again. The customer ate the majority of the meal and then walked back up to the counter. As the customer approached, the manager listened to the story, got him another food item with cheese, and then told him this:
“Sir, I apologize for the confusion on your meal. We take pride in getting orders correct and making sure our guests are pleased every single time. We have noticed that in the past few weeks, we have been unable to get your order correct the first time in every case. On your future visits, please alert me to your presence in the restaurant and I will take your order myself to ensure that we get it right moving forward. My team will also try to help by alerting me that you are here as well, so that we can minimize the chance of misunderstandings moving forward. Thank you for your business and I hope you enjoy your meal.”
I was floored. First of all, the nerve of this person that is literally stealing from this restaurant. Second, what a hard place to be in for the manager and my friend. If you confront the person, is it possible that they will make a scene, or worse, destroy you on social media? If you let it go, what does that do to your business? Pretty soon, he is bringing in all of his friends because he knows you will not enforce the rules!
The moral of this story is this: The customer isn’t always right, but they are always the customer. You never know who they really are, what is going on in their day or life, or who they are connected to. I have seen instances where someone wanted to get into a verbal altercation with a customer. Luckily for them, they realized that the behavior wasn’t driven by the situation in the moment, but that they were going through a rough time at home or they had just lost a loved one. None of this completely excuses the poor behavior, but anyone can have an occasional bad day. When faced with a difficult situation, start with the mindset that maybe there is a reason this person is acting this way. Try and dig into that versus blaming someone and getting upset. Try and treat them like a treasured asset for your company versus someone you don’t care about. Treat them like you would want to be treated. Oh, wait a minute… That is another ‘golden rule’ I don’t agree with, but we'll save that one for next time.
Until then, go make things happen. Be the rainmaker for those around you.