If you have ever worked in a customer-facing role, how many times have you had to grit your teeth, take a deep breath and silently repeat to yourself "the customer is always right" while dealing with a consumer more painful than toe-nail removal?
The reality is the much-maligned motto of "the customer is always right", which has been drilled into anyone working in a customer service role, is just so wrong.
This phrase, coined in 1909 by British department store owner Gordon Selfridge, was an attempt to convince employees to give great customer service. It was - and still is - widely recognised that in so many ways the happiness of a customer is vital to business success.
Fast-forward a century and many businesses are blasting out this well-intended but misdirected motto whenever they can, often to the exception of their exasperated employees.
Customer service operatives will explain that consumers are increasingly pushing boundaries by making unreasonable requests that prompt employees to break rules, threatening to post derogatory customer service reports on social media if they don't get their way and - most alarmingly - intimidating, abusing, spitting at and slapping those who are there to help.
A survey by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association revealed that in the past year 88 per cent of employees had experienced verbal abuse from a customer, 15 per cent had been subjected to physical violence and 11 per cent had encountered sexual harassment.
These startling statistics simply confirm what many involved in the delivery of customer service have known for some time.
Take, for example, the couple arriving at a trendy restaurant only to be told by the matre d' that there was no record for their booking. After berating the head waiter for inconceivable incompetence, the couple checked their calendar only to discover they had turned up a week early.
And what about the barista who was spat at when he told a customer he was unable to fill a coffee order for a cappuccino without milk, foam or chocolate sprinkled on top. Or even the electricity customer who yelled down the phone at a client service employee that he had been receiving his quarterly accounts only every three months.
Bosses who put customers before employees will always create morale problems larger than Donald Trump's ego.
It is these types of customers who leave many customer service operatives marinating in misery because increasingly the line between rational expectations and unreasonable demands is being crossed.
And with some customers simply being bad for business, it is no wonder some businesses have started to "fire" their worst customers, compile lists of secretly banned customers and drift away from another oft-quoted maxim - the more customers, the better.
When bosses try to instil a "customer is always right" mentality in their workplace they create winners and losers - because if the buyer is always right then it follows that the employee must always be wrong.
That arrangement puts the consumer in a position of authority that in today's world seems to act as a solid platform from which to discharge a raft of dysfunctional behaviours - many of which impact adversely on the health and safety of customer service employees.
And it is not just health and safely that are at stake. Bosses who put customers before employees will always create morale problems larger than Donald Trump's ego.
It is those morale problems that lead to disengagement and lower productivity, which ultimately extinguishes any semblance of quality customer service.
The bottom line is the customer isn't always right. Thinking otherwise will only deliver service with a scowl. Put employees first and then watch them put customers first - happy people equal happy customers.
- Professor Gary Martin is CEO, the Australian Institute of Management WA.