General Question

DeezerQueue's avatar

Is the attitude "the customer is always right" creating and/or feeding a culture of entitlement?

Asked by DeezerQueue (2017points) June 1st, 2008

I’ve been wondering this for awhile but it wasn’t really a pressing question, now it is. While in America the customer has for some time been the “king” has it gone too far that people believe that they are now actually entitled to things that they aren’t really entitled to? Has the attitude crept into everyday life, crossed over into other areas so much that people believe that they are entitled to a perfect life, at any cost, that they can no longer even appreciate a small amount of suffering or pain? Or for any other reason, for that matter. Has America become a culture of entitlement? How did we get here? If you believe it’s not helping America, or any other country for that matter, are we powerless to stop it? (Similar but less questioning topics have been asked; I’ve looked but not quite like this one that’s why I’m asking—how did we get here?) Will it take major disasters to turn it around to achieve a balance?

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22 Answers

DeezerQueue's avatar

I do know that this has been asked, but I’d like to probe a little more deeply about whether people are so bothered by it that they also wonder if there’s some way to turn it around, or seeing it as a dangerous social trend.

wildflower's avatar

The joys of consumerism! The most powerful tool people have these days (of course sometimes you get the impression the people are the tools…)
As a result companies have to stroke the customer’s ego, because it has come out of surveys and statistics that customers are most likely to change companies based on bad service experience.
Having worked many years in customer service industry, my view is that the customer always believes he’s right and no-one likes to be invalidated, therefore you have to use influencing and persuasion to change their claim. If this is done well, the customer will walk away believing they got their way.

wildflower's avatar

Add-on: Here’s an interesting article about how to keep your customers:

DeezerQueue's avatar

But isn’t this, in a way, feeding the attitude of entitlement? Getting what you paid for is a matter of justice, particularly if a product comes with “satisfaction guaranteed” claim. How far have we gone, though, that we believe that we’re entitled to “satisfaction guaranteed” in other areas of our lives, as well, in general.

Parents will sometimes march into a store, huffing and puffing, demonstrating entitlement behavior, teaching their children that if they scream loud enough and long enough, that they’ll get their way.

wildflower's avatar

Again, drawing on my experience, the one that screams long and loud enough may walk away thinking they got the most out of it, but everyone I’ve ever worked with will go further, try harder and bend the rules more for a customer they sympathize with.
It’s a psychological game really. Just like psychological pricing, now it’s making the customer believe he/she can get anything they want.
The upside is that the customer will like the company because they feel empowered by them and will spread the goodwill.

Vincentt's avatar

wildflower, I think what DeezerQueue means is that this entitlement attitude no longer applies just to people in their “consumer” role. For example, when I’m a referee at a football game (with very young children who’ve just started playing football), sometimes there’s a lot of shouting from the parents who are watching, feeling their kid’s being done injustice. Meanwhile, the kids themselves just want to play.

whatthefluther's avatar

It seems to me that too many of our youth have become spoiled and selfish, have expectations of being rewarded not for hard work but for hardly working, are all too quick to call themselves victims when things don’t go their way, and generally lack respect of others and the property of others. I think you are correct that the “customer is king” attitude contributes to this trend but there are many other reasons including inadequate parental guidance, a declining educational system, a lack of appropriate role models and a technology explosion that even keeps my head perpetually spinning.

wildflower's avatar

I don’t believe that stems from consumerism alone. It’s something that’s very obvious here in Ireland. Older generations are very big on modesty and not promoting themselves, whereas the younger generation – those in school now – are being conditioned to believe they can do and accomplish anything. Everyone’s a talent and something special…...Personally, I blame reality TV as much as anything else. Between Pop Idol, You’re a Star, Britain’s got Talent, X-factor, So you think you can dance and all the others, anyone can be a star and I think this rolls over to other aspects of life and often encourages crude and obnoxious behavior.

willbrawn's avatar

our society totally believes they can get what they want whenever. I work in customer service and my manager will actually tell people no quite a bit. Mostly cause its just out of his power what they are requesting. People get furious, I think it does carry over. People get lazy, they think great and amazing things should just happen to them. No one likes being told no, and people are losing the idea of hard work that can hurt.

delirium's avatar

(oh my god. This is totally off topic but I just realized your avatar was a lady and not a potato chip! It explains so much!!)

TheHaight's avatar

…ugh, it doesn’t look like a potato chip! Hah.

Anyways, I feel as if customers have gotten way to spoiled. One time a customer that I was ringing up had an item of clothing with a clearance sticker of $6.97, and I knew this item was regular price because we had just got it that day. I peeled off the sticker and told her “someone must have peeled off a sticker from a clearance item and put it on this one (knowing It had to he her).”. She yelled at me and said “the customer is always right”, threw the rest of the clothing that she was going to buy and walked out, yelling obscene words. They are too comfortable these days, and if I know they are trying to fool me I will not let them get away with it!

richardhenry's avatar

@TheHaight: it’s funny, many people wrongly believe that if an item has been advertised at a certain price then it must be sold to them at that price, even if it has clearly been mislabelled. The opposite is true: the advertised price is called an ‘invitation to treat’, and not an offer of sale, and technically the retailer is under no obligation to sell it. (Provided the retailer doesn’t do this deliberately, which is a violation of trading standards.)

richardhenry's avatar

^ For the UK, sorry. I don’t know about the US.

Adina1968's avatar

The customer is not always right but the rule of outstanding customer service is to satisfy the customer. A customer that is happy might tell two friends but an unhappy customer will rant to ten friends. That is just the way it is, it is not worth tarnishing the name of your business, even if the customer is wrong.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I have worked one form of customer service or another since I was 18. NO, emphatic NO, the customer is not always right. The customer is actually wrong a lot.. but as someone said, it’s not about being right, it’s about being satisfied. The customer wants to believe they’re always right (thx to the person that came up and propagated that phrase), but it’s really all about making them feel important to the business and making sure all their needs are met.

Dealing with people every day, I wholeheartedly agree that there is a pervasive sense of entitlement everywhere these days. I find it really troublesome, frustrating, and wrong. I find that many people, not just customers, but classmates, parents, people I observe in everyday life, automatically throw a tantrum when they don’t get what they want. There’s no reasoning with them and you will never get them to see how ridiculous they’re being.. they stubbornly insist it’s their way or the highway.

Whatever happened to being reasonable, talking about things? I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that people will be WAY more willing to help you out if you’re calm and civil. I mean, who would want to help someone ranting and behaving like a buffoon? Seriously, show me some civility and I will bend over backwards to help you..

squirbel's avatar

Haha, this is awesome that I’m not the only one who has seen this trend in society. I asked a few months ago As a customer is it always your right to get what you want?.

This spills into other areas in our life – and it can be seen anywhere that the sphere-of-person overlaps with sphere-of-society – perople become more demanding.

DeezerQueue's avatar

@richardhenry In the Netherlands, in my law class for my study in economy, we learned a product must be sold at the advertised price, under “offer and acceptance.” Some are able to skirt this by adding a disclaimer in fliers that state that the offer is invalid if it’s the result of a typographical or printing error, or other obvious situations may apply, such as as “while supplies last.” But in general, the product offered at the price stated falls under “offer and acceptance.”

DeezerQueue's avatar

My own personal opinion reflect some of what others here have also stated, and most specifically in the last paragraph of AlenaD. However, I’m not certain if society itself is ready and willing to turn the trend around or if it will continue on and even become worse. I do know that for me personally it’s difficult to reconcile when people behave in such a manner when faced every day with images of people who have little to nothing and nowhere to stamp their feet about it.

richardhenry's avatar

@DeezerQueue: Wow, things are a bit more binding for you guys than they are here.

Bri_L's avatar

I have been in customer service since I was 15, as a rep since 17. The think I have found is that the number one thing they need is to feel like they have been listened to. Like someone, anyone hears them. Relates to their frustration. The frustration of coming back to the store, with a product that didn’t work, or wasn’t what they thought, or the price they thought. Also, that the smallest gesture on behalf of the store will make up for the biggest effort not to relinquish an inch. It also helps to empower the employees with this ability. That, of course, involves a. quality customer service training, which at its core is common sense and b. a plan for levels of reaction to levels of problems. In the end though, no individual is worth an ultimatum. When one person escalates from “here is my problem I want this or I walk” with out discussion let them go. You can build 10 new lasting relationships on the energy it will take to build one tenuous one that will always cost that much energy.

gooch's avatar

I feel this “entitlement” has disappeared. I feel if you want MY business make me king. If not I will spend my hard earned dollars elsewhere

Bri_L's avatar

then I will keep 20 customers in the time it would take to appease you, and get 20 more.

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