WORKING ABROAD / FEB. 18, 2014
version 2, draft 2

Obsolete Business Proverbs: # 1- “The Customer is Always Right”

A significantly large part of the culture of business is made up of, or at least to some degree dictated, by little things we call proverbs. Effectively bite-size snippets of meaningful or otherwise wisdom-bestowing information, business proverbs have long been a guiding light for the goodhearted struggling through the often extremely difficult terrain of world commerce in the 21  (and for that matter, the 20th) century.

Though there’s no book of all-knowing proverbs by which every white collar worker in the western world is required to work strictly by, there are several (thousand) hideous self-help publications out there that have sold millions of copies, making their authors rich and, worse yet- esteemed, on the back of what is essentially misinformation which no longer applies in the modern business context. Through this series of articles I intend to highlight and systematically take apart some of the most popular business proverbs which, through no real fault of their own, have become completely obsolete.

“The Customer is Always Right!”

Easily one of the most commonly spieled of the business proverbs, the notion that the customer is king and their every need must be taken care of at all costs can be drastically counterproductive. An extremely tired maxim, it basically acts to imply that hardworking and loyal employees should always be cast aside in order for the prerogatives of the customer (regardless of how unreasonable) to flourish unquestioned.

Whilst in a general sense, it is always desirable to go out of your way in order to satisfy a paying customer; the implication that the word or judgement of a company employee is never equal to that of a client or customer is severely out of place in the current climate. If anything, it will only ever lead to a growth in under-par customer service, which is pretty ironic.

The Truth Should Prevail, Regardless of Who Speaks It.

Disputes within business are extremely common; always have been and always will be. All things considered, surely the most progressive and competent way to deal with them is to take each case as it arrives in an objective and head-on manner?

Giving unreasonable clients an immediate, pre-planned and undisputed advantage over an employee is a fast track to mutiny. After all, in this day and age of world-wide trade, there is such a thing as a customer who is bad for business. Not only that, but they also possess the ability to be completely wrong, as all human beings do.

So, what would a suitable new mantra fit to replace this old dilapidated one look like, I hear you say. How about: “an employee’s happiness is every bit as important as a customer’s”. What do you think?

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