The Customer is Always Right

T

You hear the phrase all the time – ”the customer is always right.” It’s everywhere, everyone knows it and every customer expects you to understand it. Every business I’ve been involved in from my aunt’s security company, my uncle’s dental practice, my dad volunteering his carpentry to my own agency, to what we do at Swap.com, I have believed that you build your business based on providing the best service you know how to your customers. And they’re always right.

During the past couple of years living and working in the Chicagoland area, I’ve noticed that there is a shit ton of toxicity towards customers. I was at an event a couple of weeks ago in New York, and a few of the representatives from some agencies were in a lively conversation about the difficulties of working with clients and their ridiculous demands ( mine included… ).

I also was thinking about the agencies and partners I have worked with in my current role as well as the local service providers I hire for work around my house and property. When I add up how many of them I have been frustrated with and eventually fired, it’s quite a large percentage. The single reason I’ve dropped agencies or other providers is simply because they did not deliver what I wanted or requested. As the customer, I didn’t seem to ever be right.

I never really experienced this when I was on the other side of the table and had clients. They were almost always right. But I was also in another part of the country where things move a bit more slowly and on the casual end of things. So maybe that’s it?

The Customer is Always Right…Right?

What I find most interesting right now is the fact that there is so much bitching about people like me ( customers ) and my apparently insane requests. I want things done more quickly, or just on time. I want to make changes to our plan. I want more explanation for what my partners are doing. I basically want accountability because that’s what I’m paying for.

And these are exactly the sort of things I hear people complaining about. Their clients are asking too much and are just a pain in the ass to deal with. If that’s the case, then why not fire your customers? If it’s so bad to handle your customers wanting more, then just fire them or stop taking their money. If they aren’t paying you, then they’re not right. If they are paying you, then they’re always right. It’s as simple as that.

Retaining a client just because they are paying you is a terrible way to do business. Complaining about everything your client does while continuing to take their money is an even worse way to do business.

I’m not on the agency side of the world anymore, and the fact that I see this much when being involved so little scares the shit out me and makes me worry about the future of my industry. I’m hoping this is not a trend, but a minor bump in the road for marketing and those fortunate enough to work within its space.