The customer is not always right. A real relationship demands two-way respect. You need to respect your customers, and they need to respect you in return.

The following a true story – I saw it with my very own eyes as I was sitting at a café writing up my notes after a meeting.

A middle-aged woman turned up with her baby and a friend. After she placed her order, she pulled out a jar of baby food and asked the person behind the counter to heat it up for her in his microwave.

He declined, explaining that management policy forbade him to do so (the café is a franchised store) in a microwave because of the risk of serious burns. Instead, he offered to provide a hot water bath for her to put the jar into. Which I thought was a perfectly reasonable compromise.

Surprisingly, the woman got extremely angry and abusive. “Every other café I’ve been in had no trouble doing this!” she repeatedly petulantly. The server continued to explain why he could not use the microwave, and repeatedly offered the hot water bath.

“This is totally unacceptable.” she cried indignantly. “I want your name so I can complain to your manager”. “I am the manager. And feel free to call my head office.” the server calmly replied. She huffed and puffed some more about the appallingly unreasonable service and that she would never come back again. At this point, the whole café was probably quietly grateful to hear that promise!

I can’t help but think: with this sort of customer, there is no winning. If the baby were to get burnt, the same attitude would mean this woman will be the first to lay blame squarely on the café. They heated it up on their microwave and did not warn her blah blah…

I was really glad the owner stood firm to his refusal, and acted so calmly. He later told me that he was confidently his head office will back him up - which was in itself a good thing to hear.

No business deserves this sort of customer.