The notion of the customer is always right was originally directed at staff operating in the retail or leisure industries. When someone complains about the food being served, then it’s best to change it without too much fuss because that can affect the perception of the surrounding clientele if you decide to argue your case. It was used to make sure complaints were taken seriously and for that we have a lot to be thankful for.
If you provide a service on a business to business basis, however, adhering to this mantra rigidly can actually diminish your service offering which will adversely affect the service ultimately received. Don’t diminish yourself – you do your clients no favours!
It’s an old adage and for years has been a mantra for many business owners and their staff. But is the customer always right? The truth is, particularly when it comes to supplying a service, the answer is: Not always. Sometimes never.
Is The Customer Always Right?
When it comes to the service industry and giving sound advice that has generated proven results, it can be frustrating when the customer doesn’t quite see it from your point of view. We regularly receive enquiries from business owners wanting to engage our services. That’s no surprise – being business development specialists you would hope so! 9/10 they appreciate our advice and guidance, however, initial discussions can often come with the client’s own ideas of how our services should be supplied.
Here’s a quick example:
Client: I want to do some social media marketing.
The Last Hurdle: That’s good, why?
Client: So I can get some leads, grow my business and raise our online profile
The Last Hurdle: That’s great, one of the first things we will do is increase your local reach and connect you with new people who are within your identified target market.
Client: I don’t want to really connect with people I don’t know.
The Last Hurdle: Really? So how did you envision this would go? You want to market to new people but you don’t want to engage with them? (scratches head)
The customer wants the service but doesn’t want to operate outside their comfort zone for one reason or another. It is unfortunately a situation that all service industry providers come across quite regularly. If we, as a service, are to do our job properly we can’t just turn around, shrug and say: fine, if that’s what you want let’s not connect you with new people. Yes, this is an overly simplified scenario, but we have all faced similar situations where we are asked to compromise our expertise and knowledge to submit to the clients will.
In this particular scenario, the customer is not right and needs to be convinced of the benefits of utilising our knowledge and experience, that is after all, what clients are paying us for! And it is a part of our job to highlight all the benefits of doing this, sell it to them if you like. In the end we can’t be a success and the business we are endeavouring to help can’t be a success unless there is a meeting of minds and an agreement on the way forward.
Now these scenarios don’t always conclude with a meeting of minds and when that happens it is important that you have the courage to sever the relationship, the alternative is the relationship will not be a harmonious one and it certainly won’t be a profitable or enjoyable one for either of you – so what is the point?
If the client could provide your service offering for themselves, then these businesses surely would not contact you in the first place. Have faith in your expertise, listen to your gut and go with it, and if it the relationship is not right then simply chalk it down to “it’s just not the right match” and move onto more positive matches.