The Customer is NOT Always Right. A Radical Way To Create Raving Fans

I was so disgusted… On the plane a man behind me was just berating a United Airlines agent on the phone. We were delayed, which is never fun. But he yelled and treated her like dirt. Then he said, “What’s your last name? Yeah, I’ll tell you what your last name is, it’s ‘Idiot,’ capital I-d-i-o-t!”

Bless his heart, how adorable. It amazes me the way people act when there’s a problem. You’ve seen it… someone just screaming at a gate or ticket agent over a delay or missed connection or whatever.


Hmm… Let’s think about this for a moment.

This person did not cause your problem. It’s the only person who could solve your problem. And you’re yelling at them?


Brilliant. And this happens in every business.


Please read my Facebook post about my very positive experience with United Airlines. (And please “like” my page!)

While “Idiot guy” was yelling, I was talking to a UA rep named Tracy, just looking for a way to get home that night. I couldn’t believe it… Tracy, went way out of her way to see that I made it home that night, as did the agents on the ground. It was extraordinary!

“Idiot guy?” I doubt he fared as well.


In customer service the unbreakable law seems to be “The customer is always right.”


Even when that customer is clearly wrong, lying, mean, using the service rep as a punching bag, the agent is supposed to coddle, placate, grin and bear it. Right?




The customer is NOT always right and maybe it’s time we started telling a few of them exactly that.


What’s happening is we’re breeding a society of spoiled, snotty brats who think they deserve the world when things don’t go their way. Well guess what? They don’t.

If you’re mean, you lie, you treat people disrespectfully, you deserve to be ignored… or even called out. Even if the company was wrong, yelling about it, being snide and snotty makes you no better than them.


Someone or some company doing you wrong does not give you permission to be a jerk. 


So, here’s my crazy solution:

What if… in the case above the agent said kindly to “Idiot man,” “I’m sorry sir but please call back when you can be a little nicer,” and hung up? And each agent was trained to do the same?

And don’t stop there. Like Carrot Top says, “You’ve got to commit.” Produce some low-budget YouTube videos or commercials with these nasty customer transcripts, and the agent being kind and reasonable. Email me and I can finish the tagline for the commercial if you want.

They’d go viral.

I predict business would boom!


Awesome customers from “Tastefully Simple” in Minneapolis, MN


Either way it’s amazing what happens when you’re kind. Once, back when I was a cabinet maker, after a contractor had been mean to the woman at the the lumber yard checkout, I was up next and just smiled… she gave me a huge discount “because you were nice.”

Trust me, you can get discounts, free stuff, even first class upgrades, just by being kind.

Mine is not a pollyanna crusade for kindness. OK, maybe. But more than that it’s a call for fair customer service professionals in every business to expect and get basic respect from customers.

(Hint: It might also be an innovative angle for companies to grow by being a little contrarian and a little more human).


Please share this!!!

Live Truly, Truly Live,


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