“The customer is always right”, I hear that a lot in my line of work ad nauseam. Growing up I never really understood the meaning of that saying nor the reason why that’s the case. But with me being older and slightly wiser (although lacking in the street knowledge dep’t), I’ve come to understand that that is a mouthful of icy cold wank, spewing out of one’s nose while trying to get senpai to notice me.
The reason is that no human BEING could ever be always right and I must stress BEING, in other words we’d have an automatic consciousness, infallible. Humans are volitional in that we have free will, to have free will means we can make our own choices in what we believe and arriving at conclusions. As learning creatures we must set our beliefs to some standard, a standard that holds up to reality. To have an automatic consciousness would mean that there’d be no need to validate what we know because we’d know everything, like God or egotistical Father from Fullmetal Alchemist.
So where on Earth did “The customer is always right” come from? To no surprise some influential old men from 10,000 years ago coined the term (That was an exaggeration). According to Wikipedia, this saying was coined in the early 20th century by pioneers of retail such as Harry Gordon Selfridge, John Wanamaker and Marshall Field.
They advocated that customer complaints should be treated seriously so that customers do not feel cheated or deceived. On the surface level this makes sense, however the mere phrasing of this motto raises a huge red flag that I’d like to go into greater detail.
Basically, customers can act like lower-case gods and abuse their power to get what they want. Of course not all customers are like this but this motto can sprout undesired consequences. For one when there’s a customer complaint that needs to be remedied, the employer can throw their employees under the bus just to keep their clientele. Customers can undermine the employee that they can simply step on to get what they voraciously want (Get it together Grouch!).
Here’s where I coin a term to put all of this into an organic whole, I call it “The Fast-Food Chain of Being”. The chain starts with “god” or the customer then progresses downwards to their family, fast-food restaurants, their possessions, their excrement, then the employee.
With the ongoing rapid advancement of modern technology and the streamlining of services such as online ordering systems from Domino’s and Amazon, what’s the point of the customer service representative? Are we as disposable as a broken condom on a bike handle?
Of course not, however I feel like I understand the gist of all this. It means that customers, in the case of fast-food, are like animals. According to philosopher Leonard Peikoff, animals are infallible in that they operate on instinct or stimulus-response. They have no capacity to MAKE UP their own mind so in essence they can’t be wrong in their instinctual behavior.
So here’s the question: Are they gods or animals? It seems to me that customers are the latter, especially in a culture where critical thinking isn’t promoted but fashionable ideas, hearsay, and authorities. Sure “the customer is always right” sounds empowering on the surface-level but we can conclude that it’s actually disempowering.
Why does a customer need to think about what they want? Obviously they already know the answer to that, they just need someone to fetch it for them, no need to think but to be a mindless consumer. We just consume, consumed, consuming, endless consumption like Father’s raping of humans for Philosopher’s Stones. This situation kind of reminds me of the times of Ancient Egypt where the people were subservient to their rulers.
If philosophers and scientists can’t be always right, and quite literally would be damning to their profession, then customers sure as heck don’t get that privilege! None of us do. But why do they? Why do we give ourselves permission to be always right when it comes to being serviced? What if were wrong? As far as I know it’d be a nightmare to service 7-billion “gods” who think they’re always right, that’d be a metaphysical hell!
Don’t get me wrong, I want to give the best service I can offer and I do at Domino’s, but we’re not perfect. If an employee feels they’re being undermined, what motivation do they have to sincerely give the best service? At most what you can expect is merely superficial service with a smile. Many of us want to give our best to others, but those efforts can be squandered when your service is unappreciated. If the customer is always right then there’s no need for my service of any kind, I’d merely be a rug at that point.
I’m of the belief that a business can’t afford to leave unknowns in the air like whether the Domino’s I work for delivers to a certain location, lest we lose profit. Why depend on the customer to give us their address when some don’t even know where they live (I’ve dealt with this about 2-3 times)!? I wish we lived in a world where some of our customers weren’t ignorant of basic food-ordering procedures, lie to get free food, or blow up situations to where they call corporate for insignificant reasons.
However at the end of the day we in food service are the purveyors of knowledge, to feed the belly of the beast that is humanity. I’m learning a lot from working in fast-food despite how frustrating it can get. It’s very bestial the act of feeding, a human being of all creatures. I wouldn’t be surprised if later down the line we forget how to cook and instead only know how to “order.”
That’s a key word, ORDER. “What would you like to ORDER?” There’s a Masonic credo that goes “ordo ab chao” meaning order out of chaos. Ordo ab chao is learning, and in it is a trial-and-error process. It is the foundation of education. Without it there’d be no human achievement of any sort. As humans we learn through a 3-step process called the Trivium. The Trivium is a 3-step methodology that goes GRAMMAR-LOGIC-RHETORIC, KNOWLEDGE-UNDERSTANDING-WISDOM, or INPUT-PROCESSING-OUTPUT.
The Trivium is the process of asking the 5 W’s + HOW. GRAMMAR is WHO, WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN. LOGIC is WHY, and RHETORIC is HOW. An example of this would be ordering from a restaurant. GRAMMAR would be browsing the menu to find what you want to eat, LOGIC would be knowing which item is which, and RHETORIC would be placing your ORDER. To not follow this process would be irrational, you don’t eat, order, then figure out what you want.
It’d make my job so much easier if customers simply took the time to look over our menu and find out what they want beforehand, to save me a 5-10 minute phone call (which feels like an eternity). Dealing with customers for me is the worst experience at Domino’s, however the challenge is remaining professional and not reacting out of stimulus.
I’m not badmouthing customers, I’m simply criticizing some of them. Although our work isn’t their problem and shouldn’t be, it isn’t that hard to have yourself together a bit before picking up that phone. Fast-food reveals quite a lot about our modern culture, a culture that breeds dependency, irrationality, and misguided entitlement. I too share a bit of these qualities as well, and I wish the best for all of us to make each other’s lives easier.
What we can do to be less wrong in our thinking we can do the following:
-Learn the basic logical fallacies (I highly recommend Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s Intro to Logic Course on his website, but you can learn these for free)
-Reintegrating the Trivium and learning how we’re being dumbed down (Check out The Peace Revolution Podcast EP 23: How To Free Your Mind; Also check out The Ultimate History Lesson with John Taylor Gatto)
-Seeking mindfulness through some type of meditation for emotions (Yoga, Qigong, exercise, drawing, painting, taking a walk, writing in a journal, etc.)
To all of us, my hope is that one day we’ll all do our best to be less wrong and not “always right.”