In 1909, London department store owner Harry Selfridge coined the term "The Customer is Always Right" to signify that his store would consistently deliver excellent service to customers. He also believed it would better inspire his employees to provide exceptional customer service.
Selfridge was not the only one who held customers in such high regard. Other cultures have similar variations of this phrase:
- France: “Le client n’a jamais tort.” - “The customer is never wrong.”
- Germany: “Der kunde ist könig.” - “The customer is king.”
- Japan: “Okyakusama wa kamisama desu. / (お客様は神様です)” - “The customer is god.”
The Impact of The Customer Always Being Right
This saying and others like it encouraged business mindsets and behaviors that positively influenced customer perception at a time when misrepresentation was rife and “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” was a common legal maxim. However, through the years it has had the opposite effect on employees. Often, this axiom leaves employees feeling disempowered in their relationships with both customers and the business.
In cases where a business owner exclusively adheres to the belief that, "the customer is always right" and consistently takes the customer’s side without listening to their employee’s perspective, the impact on morale can be devastating. Employees need to know that their employer will hear and understand them and will evaluate them fairly, rather than through a one-sided lens. This is crucial, especially in cases involving unrealistic customer expectations or unfounded feedback.
But what about cases where the customer is simply dissatisfied with the service they have received? Usually, these customers have a genuine issue. However, in these instances, the customer is providing the business with only half of the story. Customers experience the frustration of not being able to achieve their goals, but often, they are unaware of the underlying causes or potential solutions to rectify the situation. In this situation, it's common to place blame on the service representative or contact center agent. However, the issues often originate from other aspects of the customer experience. These can include underlying technology, carrier, or connection quality.
Employees as Translators
In these situations, you need a 'translator.' Someone who can translate the customer's external language (e.g., 'my delivery was missed') into internal language that fully explains the problem. For example, 'our driver in that region called in sick yesterday, and we had no contingency drivers available, so the package wasn't delivered as scheduled.'
The best 'translators' within any organization are often the frontline contact center agents. They can typically offer a goldmine of additional information. Frontline employees can enhance customer feedback by providing real-time context and additional information gathered during customer interactions.
If your frontline employees are as vital to your business as your customers, consider re-evaluating traditional sayings. Ensure your employees play a more central role.
In the words of Sir Richard Branson, “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
A better way is to ensure that all parties equally hear, understand, respect, and value insights and feedback from both your customers and frontline employees
At Cyara, we fundamentally believe there are two sides to every conversation, and that both employee and customer feedback provide important, actionable insight that can improve CX. This is where Cyara CentraCX comes in - a voice of the customer (VoC) solution that streamlines the collection, understanding and actioning of customer feedback in lock-step with context and feedback from agents and contact center frontline workers as well. A solution that empowers contact centers like yours to collect feedback from all relevant sources. When you combine these insights, they form a more comprehensive picture of your customer experience. This allows you to more promptly address matters important to both your customers and agents.
Companies that leverage insights from frontline agents to enrich customer feedback gain a 360° view of their CX. They can also better understand how well they address customer issues. Additionally, such customer-centric organizations tend to excel in meeting customer needs, while maintaining high agent morale and job satisfaction.