No matter how finicky or rude a customer, many businesses make employees treat bad customers with unquestioned respect or risk reprobation—even getting sacked.
Per the well-worn business adage, is “the customer is always right?” No, they’re not. Sometimes they’re wrong, and they need to be told so.
Your goal should be to do business with people that you enjoy doing business with. Some customers simply aren’t good customers. They don’t follow directions and complain irrationally. They have unreasonable expectations, and they treat your people rudely.
Idea for Impact: A prudent maxim is, “the customer is usually right.” Put the customer first, but don’t get mistreated by them. Putting the customer first doesn’t mean putting employees second. As a business, you must let customers be wrong with respect and dignity; but employees should be authorized to caution some customers, “After due consideration, we believe your actions are unacceptable. Persist, and we’d choose to lose your business.” Some bad customers are just bad for your business.
Almost always, though, unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning; they can especially offer an honest assessment of the expectations you’re setting. Customer satisfaction with a transaction depends on their expectations going into it.