The Customer is Not Always Right

I was chatting with Marc Rudov, the WhiteNoise Doctor, last week about clients we have known. In case you don't know, I've been on a Rebel Rant lately about the ridiculous customer service attitudes, or rather lack of customer service, we've all experienced.

Marc reminded me of an important caveat to the “customer is always right” rule. We've both had clients who were abusive, obnoxious and downright unruly - refusing to listen, attacking us and our suggestions - all because in reality, they didn't want to change. They wanted to appear progressive to their boards or venture investors, but in reality - they were hanging onto gravity with all their might.

Such customers are not "always right". In fact they are usually just plain wrong! So there is a flip side to bad customer service - when the customer is wrong.

How can you tell when you should say "Enough is Enough" concerning a customer?

Customers are wrong when:

* They are abusive, nasty, angry or worse, for no reason other than fear of change. That's rude.

* They attack any and every idea you offer - even when you mirror their own ideas back to them. That's just plain cantankerous.

* They refuse to work with you in good faith to help solve their problem, preferring to complain. That's stubborn.

* They fib about their situation - either to protect themselves or to attack you. That's out of integrity.

* They play the passive/aggressive game, agreeing to a solution then changing their minds and wanting more or different responses from you, again and again and again. That's being a PITA.

My thanks to Marc for reminding me of yet another status quo belief whose time has come. The customer is not aways right.

Yes, customers deserve the best support you can provide. When customers are professional and fair - they deserve the best.

But when customers step across the lines above, it's time to take a hard look at whether you really want to be a business partner with them.

Ask yourself - what are your chances of success with this customer. Will they be, or are they, really profitable? If the answer is “slim to none”, move on!


Caveat - If we've really made a mess of our delivery and aren't doing what's fair and equitable to make it right, then I do believe that a little customer anger is justified. Maybe that anger will get us to pay attention to what's going on in our shop!

No. of Times this article has been viewed : 980
Date Published : Jul 25 2010

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