Most have heard the phrase, “the customer is always right”. Perhaps in 1909 when Harry Selfridge coined it he knew it was good marketing based on a fib. He made it his staff’s mantra, and it worked. His success at Selfridges shows he knew a thing or two about keeping customers loyal to his brand.
Fast forward a hundred plus years and the phrase is still tossed out again and again, but do people believe it? I don’t. The customer is not always right, but they sure as heck don’t want to be told they are wrong. How can a client be told they aren’t right, and change their mindset without being insulted?
If a client is talking about something and I know it isn’t correct, I let them finish. The last thing they need is for me to interrupt by saying, “No, that is wrong”, or “That isn’t going to happen”, or worse yet, “That’s crazy”! (trust me, I’ve wanted to say that a time or two).
Remember everyone wants to be heard, and by listening I am keeping the flow of communication open and positive. When they are done speaking I express that what they said is interesting, or something I hadn’t thought of in that way. I take that few seconds so they feel validated and not ignored, then I say, “How about this”? I can start explaining the ins and outs and get us on the same page.
Listening to the client is vital to getting the job done right. Learning their wants, needs, and managing expectations is part of every deal. Plus, in listening to them I have learned a lot of things, and being able to see a situation from their viewpoint has taught me many things.
So, the customer isn’t always right, but they aren’t always wrong. It is a give and take relationship that will benefit all parties if we just communicate effectively, be respectful to each other’s ideas, and know there is more than one way to solve a problem.