Is the Customer Always Right?

My answer to that question is a qualified “no.” Sometimes the customer is right and sometimes the customer is wrong.

As a freelance writer/editor, I work with a variety of clients with varying degrees of experience with writing and/or editing copy. They come to me because they either don’t know how to do a certain job or they don’t have time. As a freelance writer, I use my experience to help my clients communicate in a professional way and meet their business goals. Some clients have very specific ideas on how a job should be done while others let me take the lead.

Do we always see eye-to-eye? No. There are times when we disagree on how to do a job or how the end product should look. Now, I could spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince my client to agree with me, but that’s not always the best way to go. Disagreements could cost me a job, but I have yet to lose a client because we didn’t agree. I like to think this is because of my approach to customer service.

As a service provider, my job is to make the client happy—not be right. I love the quote attributed to Laura Ashley that says, “We don’t want to push our ideas on to customers, we simply want to make what they want.”

When I disagree with a client, I express my concerns and opinions respectfully and try to help the client make the right decision for their company/organization. But ultimately I defer to the client for the final decision. The customer may not always be right, but they are the ones footing the bill and therefore should have the final say. An old saying makes my point: “Treat every customer as if they sign your paycheck…because they do.”

My motto has changed from “the customer is always right” to “make the customer happy.” It seems to be working for me. I feel that I have built very good working relationships with all my clients over the years. However, I’d love to hear how you deal with disagreements with customers. What mistakes have you made and what did you learn from that experience? Or what tactics have worked for you?

Anyone running a business of any kind can benefit from a little training in customer service—this writer included.


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