Recently, upscale trendy sushi restaurant Nobu had an interesting reputation management situation arise. Stewart Rahr, a pharmacy billionaire who fancies himself a regular customer of Nobu, recently got banned from the restaurant after making a scene when he “found a group sitting at what he considered his table.” Rahr, despite being considerably wealthy and willing to drop a lot of money at Nobu whenever he patroned there, was being disruptive and Nobu had to decide whether they wanted his business at the expense of ruining other customers’ experience.
It seemed as if Nobu made the right decision–not only did Rahr allegedly call the Nobu manager “some very nasty names,” he also emailed a number of celebrities, billionaires, and famous athletes earlier this month. The message that was sent to a few hundred people included a typo-laden, all capitalized rant directed at Nobu for being disrespectful to him. He included this gem of wisdom in the email:
Rule #1 CUSTOMER IS
Rule #2 EVEN IF CUSTOMER IS PLUCKEN
WRONG SEE RULE # 1.
“The customer is always right” is one of the most pompous, self-righteous beliefs a consumer can hold. No, you are not always right. Sometimes a business has to put its foot down, especially when you’re acting erratic or in a threatening manner. Obviously there are instances where it’s quicker and easier for a company to accommodate a customer’s request or make an exception to placate him or her (extending a return policy, etc). But you shouldn’t feel obligated to always bend to your customer’s whim when it’s at the expense of your reputation or everyone else’s customer experience.
Ultimately, handling customer issues should be a case-by-case instance. Whatever your decision is, make sure you stay professional and polite. If the customer starts hurling insults at you or making outrageous demands, you’ll look like the reasonable one if you keep your cool. In Rahr’s case, he was not right in this situation, and acting erratic and self-absorbed further cemented the fact that Nobu made the right decision in banning him.