Is the Customer Always Right?
In my working life, I have heard the following phrase “The Customer is Always Right” more times than I care to remember. Very recently, I was reading a sports article about a very well known athlete and their manager. The article explained that the business relationship was done and they were going their separate ways. Below the article, there was space for the readers to write their comments and this well known phrase came up constantly. Over and over, many different viewers stated that the business manager didn’t really know what they were doing as they were letting go of their so called “Golden Egg”. The comments I read basically said how the “athlete/customer” has a right to what they want and the business manager’s job is to do as they say and not worry too much else as they would make lots of money. I guess integrity means nothing and to say I was speechless would be an understatement. Yes, this has plenty to do with “numbers”. Follow me to see.
Over the years, I have worked in a variety of different places and industries. Years ago, I worked as a manager in a fine dining restaurant. A regular of our restaurant came in tipsy one busy Friday night. He then drank more so that within a couple of hours, he was drunk. For whatever reason, he didn’t like his server and I’m sure the drinking had nothing to do with it. This customer came in regularly and spent a considerable amount of money when he did. As the night went along, he started raising his voice and was now making the other customers uncomfortable. He then proceeded to stand up and reach for the server, who happened to be female. So, do you now think “The Customer Is Always Right”? I hope not as I didn’t either. I got between him and the server and told him to sit down. I also told him that if he had a complaint, he can come and talk to me anytime he wished when he was sober. This didn’t go over too well and he and his female guest just started at me. I told them that if they didn’t like what I had to say, they can pay their bill and leave. I’ll let your mind play out the rest as it wasn’t pretty………
In 2000, I was the financial person in charge of a financial institution. This company had millions in deposits and I was completely responsible for all of the numbers. I had to account for every penny coming in and going out. I reported to the CEO and he reported everything to the board as we were in charge of the day to day operations. The CEO was in the process of restructuring the company with the board’s approval. An agreement had been reached with a third party and everyone agreed, until someone changed their minds. The board members wanted more and more of those millions and what they said was fine the first time and the second time really didn’t mean much. Of course they signed their agreements, but so what. Having had enough, the CEO and I resigned because we did not agree with our customer, the board. Can you guess what happened next? You see, quite a few of the board members ended up in jail and the CEO and I did not. We knew deep down that a lot was at stake and that we would not be bought. The original 2 deals were extremely favourable for the board members and they just got greedy. Both the CEO and I were more than happy with what we were making and knew we could make a lot more in the future under the right circumstances.……
Everything I have just explained to you affects your numbers. Your choices affect your life and this is directly related to what you do and how much you earn. In my examples above, I had to defend someone and I had to resign in another one. Each one had different outcomes for me. In the restaurant, I was able to lead a team of people who now followed me because they knew I would stand up for them. You can’t lead unless others follow and you won’t make more unless you have greater responsibilities. In the second example, had I followed the board members, I am quite sure I would not be writing this. Also, would you hire me in any financial capacity knowing I did not protect the funds entrusted under my care because I too wanted more?
Reading that sports article reminded me that money should not be the main reason for “The Customer Always Being Right”. Remember who you are and your loved ones as they too will be affected. Had I followed suit with the board, my wife, her family, my family and friends all would have been affected. “The Customer IS NOT Always Right”, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them with courtesy and respect. If you don’t, you will pay the price.
On your “NUMBERS” team,
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