The Customer is Almost Never Right

One of the things that’s most striking to me about the culture here in Cancun is the lack of respect for wisdom and experience. You see this especially in the retail, services and banking sectors here. But it’s present in many forms here.

When you look for a job here you are confronted by Help Wanted Ads asking for light-skinned, tall, skinny people who are under 35 (short, old, heavy, dark people need not apply). It is common for these ads to outline what you should look like. But often these ads make no mention of experience. Knowing what you are doing, being experienced in your field, is often less important than having the look the company wants.

You feel this lack of wisdom and lack of respect for experience when you have a problem with a local business. All too often problems are met with blank stares and statements that your problem can only be solved by a) someone who is not there are present and won’t be back today or by b) sending a request to the main office in Mexico City which will take weeks. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve found that the person that I have in front of me, the person who is witness to my trouble, is not capable of solving my problem and furthermore doesn’t care!

The result is that we consumers suffer poor and inefficient service. And we find ourselves losing respect for the impotent employees in the businesses that we have problems with.

I imagine that employees of these business must feel powerless. The home office, the boss, doesn’t trust them to solve problems so the employee sees lots of frustrated clients but can’t help them. It can’t be very satisfying to work in an environment like that. And that’s probably why these employees have to not care, because they can’t do anything anyway.

My own experience, as both an employee and as an employer, is that good employees are the ones that jump in to solve problems as soon as they recognize them. As a boss you want to cultivate a culture where your employees feel rewarded for and are expected to solve the client’s problems as quickly and as well as possible. But this concept seems to be foreign here in Cancun. Here in Cancun the customer is almost never right.

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3 Responses to “The Customer is Almost Never Right”

  1. Wisdom Can’t Adhere | RiverGirl
    June 29th, 2008 21:03

    […] my last post I mentioned the lack of respect for wisdom and experience that I feel here in Cancun. There’s […]

  2. Gary Denness
    June 30th, 2008 12:23

    It’s often said there is no racism in Mexico, and with regards to foreigners that may be true, up to a point anyway.

    But I’ve worked in too many big companies (inc US firms, but not exclusive to them by any means!) where almost every female is young, beautiful and white skinned.
    I’ll be off in a minute to the HQ of oneof Mexico’s biggest banks – it’s more true there than anywhere else I work.

    There are only so many conclusion that can be drawn!

  3. RiverGirl
    June 30th, 2008 13:01

    I guess it’s probably natural for employers to hire people who are easier to look at. I remember clearly when I was hiring a technical writer for a software company that the two best candidates were a mousy dweeby ugly little man and a normal looking youngish woman. It was clear to me that she would fit into the company better socially and I hired her because of that. It wasn’t exactly because of how she looked, but her looks were a clue to her social skills. The guy was going to pick his nose in the corner and not make friends, I could feel it…

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