Thursday, March 25, 2010

What if the customer ISN'T always right?

Designers, organizers and consultants provide services, and sometimes products, to clients (or customers) based on their recommendation of what will be best for the project and customer.

The very nature of the collaboration is founded on the customer relying on the expertise and experience of the service professional.

So what about the age old adage, "the customer is always right" as it pertains to these industries? If that were true, then these professionals wouldn't exist, right? Or if they did exist it would be merely to execute orders rather than create or develop anything.

My experience has been that if you choose to work with great clients, you will most likely develop such a trusting and respectful relationship that issues will never even come up. You provide your opinion, expertise, examples from past experience, you can flat tell them they "absolutely have to do it this way" ... but ultimately, the client has the power of choice.

Ironically, that power is often the very reason the client has contacted you in the first place - because they can't make a decision. When it comes to paint colors, fabric choices, etc., people get nervous about committing to a choice and will say things like, "I don't know, you choose!"

In the beginning the "I don't know, you choose" line can be frustrating because you don't know the client well enough yet to know whether or not they will be happy with your choice. By the end however, it can be very liberating for both the professional and the client because they get relief from making tough decisions, you get creative freedom ... and ultimately everyone is satisfied in the end.

I'd like to hear from people in the service industry - specifically ones that are required to take the "trust me, I know what's best" approach with their customers. What are your secrets to making the relationship work smoothly? What do you do to ensure satisfaction? What horror stories do you have and what did you learn from them?

I think this topic is really relevant and doesn't get discussed the same way that consumer complaints and customer reviews do so I'm interested what people have to say.

1 comment:

  1. Whatever the customer wants to do, they are going to do, is I think the rule. If they wanted to dictate they are going to dictate. If they are lazy and want someone else to do the hard work they'll 'trust'.