Is The Customer Always Right?

I find this to be a fascinating question to ask an applicant.

But before we can do that, you would need to answer the question yourself:

Is the customer always right?

I know some companies believe in this so strongly they have plaques on the wall proclaiming it. Likely not for the customer to see, but visible to all employees.

The idea, of course, is to do everything possible to satisfy the customer so that a) she purchases and b) she’s happy she did so.

And, in theory, that’s a great business principle to live by.

But, in practice, you’ve likely come upon situations where the customer was “so wrong” that you weren’t willing to give away the store just to satisfy him.

I’m thinking the vast majority of you know that judgement enters in and that means employees will be required to apply a bit of judgement from time to time.

So, let’s simply ask the applicant:

“Mary, here’s the next question I’d like you to answer: ‘Is the customer always right?’”

Mary may ask for clarification, and if you want to give some, go ahead. But I’d suggest simply directing Mary back to the question itself and see how she answers it.

If she gives a glib answer, “Yes, I believe the customer is always right,” then you could follow that up with:

“Okay, Mary, that sounds fine. What if the customer believes she gave the cashier a one hundred dollar bill but she factually only provided a twenty-dollar bill? In that instance, is the customer right and you would need to pay her an additional $80 in change that she does not deserve?”

Mary will think about that for a while and give you her best answer.

There may not be a clearly right or wrong answer to the question: “Is the customer always right?” But you will learn if your applicant is thoughtful enough to consider other possibilities here. And this could be important moving forward, as you may not want Mary inclined to give away the store too often.

As the law varies in each area, please check with an attorney to ensure you are applying these tips within the law.

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