Always Be Closing: No, the customer is NOT always right

Welcome to the 21st Century, where one of the great old adages of past consumerism, customer service and professional workplace behavior has to be buried once and for all. With no honors. As a matter of fact, let’s shred every mention of this phrase with regard to our current business climate and never speak of it again.

“The customer is always right”.

Absolute, complete, without question and single doubt, bovine excrement. Nonsense to a point of crushing laughter the likes of which we rarely experience anymore.

Where once there was a civil nature between customer and clerk, (a terminology we’ll use simply for the sake of adding wonderful alliteration to the story here), our current business and social mores have led us to a much more often combative, impolite, screeching and negative experience between the two parties. In every instance where I can observe the transactional process between a server and “servee”, I look for the tell tale signs of excellent customer service. More often than not in this increasingly angry day and age, I find good reason to give the employee a massive benefit of the doubt.

For instance, I think if I were the regional manager for this fast food chain, I’d be willing to give my employees more than a slight benefit considering the morning they just experienced.

Cases in point almost always seem to come from the service industry.

A recent transaction at the bar in a popular dining establishment. Excellent server behind the bar, a very open and engaging young guy. We had been talking for a few minutes when an elderly woman sidled up to the bar about 3 feet to my right and yelled, and I do mean yelled, “GIMME A SCOTCH AND WATER!”

The server approached her with a smile and asked her what brand of scotch she wanted. “I don’t give a damn, whatever ya got” was the response, and it wasn’t said in a friendly manner. The server asked if she wanted that “neat with a water back”, which in bartending terminology for the uninitiated is scotch in a glass with the water in a separate glass for sipping. Her snap back was, “What the Hell with the questions? Just pour me a scotch and water!”.

The bartender kept his smile, returned with the drink, and when she asked how much it was the lady tossed him a few dollars with about a .40 tip.

He just looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.

Far too often, workers are being verbally hammered by that increasingly angry consumer base. Certainly there are cases where the server initiates the ugly tidings with a bad attitude, but that’s another issue for another day. This is about how the customer drives the experience to be a negative one for all concerned.

In these cases, it is of paramount importance to an excellent personal and professional brand that the worker maintain an even and steady keel at all times. “Always be closing”. Finish the transaction. Put your best foot forward. Screw ’em. Don’t let them get the best of you.

And you as the customer need to back off and show some simple respect and decency. You’ve had a bad day. Deal with it. Suck it up. “Always be closing” on YOUR brand and reputation. Don’t exacerbate the situation by going off on a customer power trip that seeks to belittle someone.

Finally, from the employers standpoint, train, manage, then stand behind your people. When someone bitche3s and complains about your people, get to the bottom of it. Don’t knee jerk to always blame the employee. “Always be closing” in the manner of closing the deal in making your workers feel as if you’ve got their back at all times. You’ll get in their face when needed, but you won’t do it just because a customer went off the rails.

The customer is NOT always right, and it’s up to the business and the employee to know the difference. Its also up to the customer themselves to make the overall experience enjoyable and easy by not being the raging jackass in the room.

Businesses and individuals have to also remain wary of what will happen if they snap back at the customer in any fashion. “YELP” reviews and such have made what was a tough landscape even tougher. Even if you provide someone with exemplary service, they can snap onto an app, belt out a few disparaging lines and keep another customer or two from trying a certain establishment.

Civility and patience go a long way in making every interaction between people in both a personal and professional setting better every time.

Two more ways to “always be closing”. Be civil. Be patient. Close every deal be handing out the respect to others you would expect to be given.

Or go to another bar and bother someone else.

2019-04-12T16:22:38+00:00