There was a news recently about an employee at a KOI bubble tea shop who was dismissed after a customer’s video complaining about service at one of its branches went viral. I have been thinking about the topic of customer service, and reflecting upon the prevalent ethos of good customer service that is sought to be promoted in society. I wonder whether this strife for making the standard of our customer service ‘good’, is actually in a way dehumanizing of those who work in the customer service sector. I wouldn’t deny that there are merits to promoting a better customer service standard, but my apprehension is that such campaigns can be taken too far, and devalue the humanity of those working as customer service personnels.
For example, take an oft quoted line that ‘the customer is always right’. Is this rhetoric really appropriate? I don’t think it is. There are times when a customer can be unreasonable, or even abusive, and I think that there are times when such treatment should not be put up with, and the customer service personnel is in his right to refuse the customer or tell off the customer. There are times when I think that the management of a customer-service company should help protect the dignity of their staff, and not acquiesce to every bellicose customer’s complaint about the customer service officer. Not every criticisms have their merits, and it is important for someone in management position not to unfairly punish them based on unfair criticisms or accusations.
I for one know how easy it is for a superior to simply ‘take his subordinate to task’ simply because of a complaint from an unreasonable customer, in a bid to wanting to be seen to be doing something. I am not saying that there aren’t times when the subordinate is to be rightly disciplined or dismissed, but I think that it is far more common in certain service industries for superior or supervising personnel to take the easy route and scold or dismiss the subordinate working in the customer-service capacity.