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This issue has always been a philosophic issue to me, sense I have worked at McDonalds for the last six years of my life. On minute one of my first day of training, I was told "the customer is always right". No ifs, ands, or buts about any of it.

After some time of learning the ropes, and getting into customer service, I have came to learn that, as the title says, the customer is not always right. I have had people flat out lied to me when I am the only person who has fixed their food and handed it out the window. They will come back and say it is wrong regardless of how good, bad, or correct I was with their order.

But, the issue is, regardless of how 'wrong' our customer is with their lies and issues... why do these people still make us 'guarantee' that regardless of what our customer says that they are always right? Yes, I do realize that it is to keep the customer coming back and happy all of the time.

Why do we use this business model and disregard the truth of the situation?

  • Well, it seems like a business decision. Presumably it is more profitable to take this particular stance. (And I'd bet that McDonald's makes even more annual profit on habitual cheaters than other clients, on a per-client basis.) – user3164 Mar 26 '14 at 18:58
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    Analysis of McDonalds' business model is (un)fortunately off-topic here. I think you answered the question already anyway: "to keep the customer coming back and happy all of the time". I think none of it is really about truth. The policy says: if customer A asserts proposition P to employee B, then B is supposed to agree with A as regards P without being committed to the truth of P (you know, given that McD requires you to always agree). – Hunan Rostomyan Mar 26 '14 at 18:59
  • I think that if McDonald's (or any other firm) would run its business according to the "laws of truth", it has been "out of business" since long time ... – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Mar 26 '14 at 21:07
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Most customers are honest, when customer is actually are the one in the wrong they generally are honest mistakes. The deliberate cheaters are generally the rarity.

Businesses that practices "Customer is always right" has weighed in the risks and benefits from cheaters taking advantage of the system versus the queue that will build up while the employee is arguing with the customer versus other customer's perception if such argument escalates versus customer's disappointment that will inevitably show up even when it's definitively proven that they are the one in the wrong versus the case the customer's delight when their issue is resolved quickly if the employee is the one in the wrong.

Making a "Customer is always right" as a blanket policy also protects employees from being personally responsible for deciding whether or not the customer is right in their claims. It short cuts the decision making process and given that they want to keep things in the line moving as fast as possible, such interruptions need to be resolved as promptly as possible.

"Customer is always right" is not a statement about truth, it is a business policy to assume that to be the case since insisting on the truth is not necessarily advantageous to the business. Especially when you consider that most sales in a McDonald is worth less than some tens of dollars, the cost of figuring out the truth is going to significantly cut into the profit from the sales and potential sales even if they prove themselves correct.

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I think there are several possible reasons not to point out a customer's mistakes. One is to keep the customer happy by just giving him what he wants so he might come back. Another possibility is that something about the menu confused the customer and McDonald's wants to know about all such instances so they can make their menus less confusing and sell more product.