“The Customer Is Always Right” Is Wrong And We Need To Stop Saying It

Do you ever feel like politeness betrays you and your business?

There are old school business expectations that are outdated, or simply don’t feel right to follow as business owners with limited time, energy, and patience.

“The customer is always right” and not saying no to avoid tension are a few of the ways we’re expected to be uber polite in order to exercise “good business” vibes.

These expectations are confusing and are a source of conflict when our circumstances prove that these pleasantries aren’t working for our business.

Social norms give us guidance and structure, but when they are a source of self-betrayal, they stifle our ability to move forward. In these scenarios, you have valid reasons to choose realness over politeness. Here are some of those scenarios —

Saying Yes Only Because It Pays Well

There are relationships, situations, and customers that are so stressful to manage that a whole day can be spent sorting your issues with them. Getting a full day’s worth of energy sucked out of you waterfalls into losing time you can’t recoup, and pulling you away from important tasks you need to complete. These all add up to hurt your bottom line and reduce your profitability.

It’s considered “good business” to be a yes person whenever possible, but if you’re not a huge corporation swimming in a cushy profit pool that can take these hits, entertaining yeses that should be nos cut into your numbers.

You can say no to engaging with a person or situation even when it’s not a rational business move to turn away a large paycheck or opportunity.

Losing energy and time are invisible costs that disturb your peace and lead to burnout, loss of ambition, and mentally knock you out.

There are as many entrepreneurs that call it quits because of these invisible losses as those that quit because of the financial losses. Consider your yeses to be loaded with costs every time you say it.

Accepting The Customer Is Always Right Mantra

Many of us say yes if there’s not a good business reason to say no. Even if we don’t like how someone is showing up in their communication and attitude, we say yes because it feels awkward to tell someone we’re turning down their business because we don’t like working with them.

It’s uncomfortable when a customer is being unreasonable, or crossing a lot of personal boundaries you wouldn’t tolerate outside of your business. The customer isn’t always right, and as a business owner, you don’t need to entertain doing business with someone while they’re walking all over you.

No part of your business should have this level of disassociation where you’re willing to take someone’s money but you can’t stand to be around them.

It’s in the same vein of disassociation as making a ton of money from your business but hurting the environment in exchange. Disturbing your peace in this way is a form of self-harm, in my opinion.

Just because you’re a business, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have the right to boundaries or preferences of who you’d like to do business with. You do and you should exercise that right.

If the customer is too difficult to work with, turn them away and let them find a business that would be thrilled to work with them, or give them referrals to those who will. Good customer service is about treating your customers with respect, which includes letting them go when you’re not the most compatible to meet their needs.

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Sophia Sunwoo

Sophia Sunwoo


I create moneymaking brands with womxn entrepreneurs who refuse to settle for mediocre. www.ascent-strategy.com