...but they are still the customer.
I remember first starting in the hospitality industry a young, fresh-faced, energetic 16 year old, peeling vegetables in the kitchen and polishing glasses behind dispense, terrified of ever making a mistake, and of having any interaction with a customer in case I said the wrong thing.
All too often the customer was placed on a huge pedestal, with us, the mere 'help' expected to do their every bidding, and cater to their every need (pun intended). Quite quickly I forgot why I started in the industry, and began to take on an 'Us vs Them' mentality, forever wanting to make sure that the customer was kept happy, and enforcing the myth that they ARE always right.
It wasn't until I had a few years experience under my belt, and started my first bar manager role that I soon realised this is often not the case. It was around this time that I heard a colleague of mine refer to them as guests, instead of customers or punters (a term I personally despise), thus altering my entire, albeit naive, outlook on Hospitality and the industry we work in, and changing the direction of my career dramatically.
Because at the end of the day, that's what they are...guests, in our 'house', people that we have invited in, invited to share our passion and creativity, and as such we are just as deserving of their respect, as they are of ours'.
This isn't to be confused with arrogance, and a 'we are better' view (although we are) but it should be knowledge that we continue to impart on those joining our ranks, to provide them with the confidence to step out of their comfort zone, and showcase that passion, that creativity and that hospitality that keeps this industry alive, ever-evolving and ever-growing.