Blogging from a small part of the Internet linked to NYC.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two bad phrases

I was jumping around the Internet and I ran across this blog with a great post entitled "Two Phrases That Destroyed American Culture" (ViolentAcres)

The two phrases are "The customer is always right" and "You have to earn my respect".

The first, "The customer is always right", is a phrase that's good ONLY for that particular customer. It usually means that:

1) the employee will have to work harder to please that ONE customer.
2) the owner/manager will be stressing that employee more.
3) other customers will receive LESS work in terms of quality and amount.

I have been on the receiving end of this before, and I always hated it. Not because I was wrong or right, but because (just as the post implies) the customer is usually a friggin' jerk about it.

The second, "You have to earn my respect", is too often spoken by someone who either doesn't deserve the respect he's demanding and/or is someone who's been disrespected and is now trying to take it out on the poor sap who is unfortunate enough to be standing in front of him/her when their panties got into a bunch.

Too many people get full of themselves and think that somehow they're better than anyone around them, that the world owes them something. Whether it be because they have money, or they have a certain title attached to their name, they believe that somehow it's okay for them to behave like jerks and treat treat people like crap.

I much prefer the other saying "You have to GIVE respect, BEFORE you can earn it".

When I was in high school, I used to work at an ice cream shop in Penn Station (NY). One day a customer asked me for a chocolate milkshake. I prepared said milkshake, served it up with a smile, collected payment, gave change and even said "have a nice day". After taking care of the next customer, my manager calls me over and I see the customer with the milkshake sitting on the counter. My manager tells me that the customer is complaining because the milkshake wasn't thick enough. I tell my manager that I prepared it the way I was trained, two scoops, some much milk, so many shots of syrup and to the blender for such and such amount of time. The customer now has other complaints "he works too slow", "he blended it too long", "he gave me the wrong change", "he walked away before finishing up with me", etc...

The regional manager happens to be walking by, hears the customer and decided to "handle this". He tells the customer he'll take care of him, prepares a new shake with about FIVE scoops of ice cream, to make it real thick. He takes a LONG time as the blender has trouble handling that much ice cream. He gives the customer the new shake, berates me in front of my manager and the customer, then refunds the customer his money saying it'll come out of my paycheck. I'm thinking "Okay, he's only doing this because the customer is here".

NOPE! He continues to talk smack after the customer walks away!

He even quotes that line, "The customer is always right"!

NOTE: He once yelled at me for giving away a scoop of ice cream that was too big. ONE scoop. That was only SLIGHTLY bigger than an average scoop. For a guy that worked in the station. That ALWAYS came by for a cone. AND... it was his birthday.

I say "If you want me to prepare shakes like that, no problem. I'll add as much ice cream as the customer wants." He starts calling me a smart ass, that I better not "cut into the profits", that I should be happy he "gave me a chance", blah blah blah. I tell him "If I have to pay for that guy's milkshake... from MY paycheck... then he should not complain about me giving away a little extra ice cream." He tried to reassert himself by threatening to fire me. As a high school kid, I didn't want to lose my job, that would have been the end of the world for me. But, I said "I can always find another job. I'm a GOOD, HARDWORKING person."

He dropped it, because... of course you can't give away as much ice cream as the customer wants! That would be incredibly stupid. He knew he was wrong. It's one thing to try to make the customer happy, but the customer, at the very least, can be mistaken. And by going above and beyond what's appropriate, only leads to spoiled customers.

That same customer came back now and then, making complaints, trying to get more for his buck, pushing the limits... Eventually, my manager told him to take his business elsewhere. And I was SO happy to be there when he reported it to the regional manager, who had to say "Yeah, you can't always make everyone happy."

The customer is definitely NOT always right, and you SHOULDN'T expect to get respect if you don't give respect.


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