“The customer is always right” is a customer service motto which gives priority to
blindly following customer demands, regardless of circumstance. In services (i.e. Shop assistant, restaurant staff, service attendants) this methodology takes any decision making privilege away from the worker, requiring them to always do whatever is necessary to satisfy the customer.
Customers can take advantage, knowing that they will get what they want regardless, however the overhead of compensating in this regard is deemed lower than potential reputational damage by not doing so.
In Digital Consultancy
In digital projects or consultancy, it is not black and white. Issues and requests are almost always complex, have a back story or require investigation (eg. Software bugs vs change requests, visual design opinion). Strictly adopting “the customer is always right” methodology cannot work.
Least of all is the worry of customer dishonesty, customers of digital consultants are usually above that.
Whilst it is important to upload high a standard of customer service, simply accepting customer demands leads to a poorer quality product for the customer. In theory, an agency or consultant has been hired because of their expertise…. why not use and respect it?
Customers can (quite rightly) be very opinionated and precious about aspects of their business/brand, but frequently refusing to move on their ideas and opposing input from external individuals, even professionals. Sometimes this is fine, in other cases this just leads to:
- a waste of money
- heightened stress for those involved
- a finished product unnecessarily hemmed in suitability
- overall reduced quality
“Why hire a professional if their knowledge and opinions will not be respected?”
When selecting a consultant to work with, choose wisely based on credentials, experience and recommendations. Value their opinions and decisions, place trust in them to do the job end to end. I’ve seen projects where customers have had such strong opinions about what they believe to be the direction in which a project needs to go, that it ruins the end product.
A good agency and good consultants will listen intently to business requirements, question and challenge any premeditated solution, absorb the brand and strive to produce outputs where the stakeholder vision is realised in a contemporary, top quality product. If given the opportunity and freedom to excel within the safe confines of the requirements, consultants can be empowered to produce their best work.
At the end of the day, the customer pays the bills and therefore they should get what they ask for, even if it is outdated, against best practice and/not recommended; though, this doesn’t mean that the customer is right.