“The customer is always right, unless I say he’s wrong”
Is he the “hero” his followers claim him to be, or an employee that completely mishandled a problem and created a dangerous situation?
If you haven’t heard the news, Steven Slater was a JetBlue flight attendant until he hit his last nerve. It was the last in a 20-year span of passenger confrontations for him. I’m not going to go into detail about what took place, because there are thousands of articles on this topic. In my opinion, the most interesting part of this story is how the internet has reacted.
There has been a huge outpouring of support from people with various business-to-consumer employment backgrounds. While Steven is now potentially facing jail time for his actions, some comments state that not only should Steven not face jail time, he should be promoted to a management position by JetBlue.
On one hand, we have an employee who chewed out a customer and then proceeded to break the law. On the other hand, we have someone who has just lived a fantasy a lot of us have had at one time or another: standing up for ourselves in the face of a rude customer.
In my past jobs, I’ve worked under employers with differing opinions about how to proceed with rude customers. Some employers took “The customer is always right” approach. On the other side of the aisle, I’ve had employers tell me if I encountered a rude customer, I needed to “stand up for myself” and that my time would be better served dealing with customers who were more eager to work with me, rather than shout at me.
Obviously, the best approach is to take care of all of your customers, whether some of them are rude or not. Each customer represents a source of life for the companies we work for, and we have to ensure those sources stay with us, rather than move to the competition.
The question to ask is this: “When do you draw the line?”
In this particular JetBlue case, Steven Slater was also physically abused by the confrontational passenger, which goes beyond simply being rude (I personally doubt the passenger meant to hit him with their luggage, but this is being reported by various news outlets as what caused the incident). At what point is the customer out-of-hand in their behavior?
Where do you personally draw the line? Do you agree with Steven Slater actions? Do you have (or have had) unique guidelines from employers when dealing with rude customers? Click Here to leave your comments!