On Reddit, there is a popular thread called "Am I the @sshole?"
"AITA" for short.
People who post on AITA will typically provide some context around a situation, then let us know what they decided to do, then ask if they handled things appropriately or if they acted like... well, you know. The Internet then proceeds to weigh in with their candid thoughts.
Sometimes you'll see submissions where it's clear the posters know deep down that they are, in fact, the @sshole. These people post on AITA to try and find others who will support (and help rationalize) their actions. You can probably imagine how well that tends to go.
But more often than not, the people posting realize certain situations can be interpreted in different ways; these folks are truly looking to understand if how they ultimately decided to handle the situation was justified or not. The comments made in response to these posts are often enlightening and provide some valuable perspectives.
Now... wouldn't it be interesting if corporations would go through this exercise with themselves after every customer service experience?
"We banned a customer from our stores after he was abusive to a member of our staff. We've heard the old adage that "the customer is always right", but in this case, we don't agree. We don't want anyone speaking to our team that way, and frankly, we're happy to do without this customer's business if it means our staff is treated with respect. AITA?" (Nope!)
"We charge an annual $100 fee (plus HST) to customers who have an RRSP stock account with us, simply because the account exists. We don't actually let customers know about this fee when they open their account online, but it's definitely in the fine print. Last week a customer noticed this charge and called to complain; we told him he shouldn't be surprised at the fee because it had been charged to his account every year for the past three years, and he just hadn't noticed. AITA?" (Yes, Scotia iTrade, you're absolutely the @sshole.)
You get the idea.
In most cases, you have to believe that companies don't intend to treat their customers poorly, mostly because doing so is generally acknowledged to be bad for business. Unless you're selling soup in New York, of course.
So why do so many of them end up doing it anyway?
Perhaps some of them simply aren't able to see things from their customers' perspectives.
Or in other words, they don't actually know if they're being @ssholes.
Fortunately, the internet can help them with that.
* If you want a funny example of how AITA works, read this short submission and then some of the comments that follow.