Customer satisfaction: Is the customer always right?

No matter what industry you end up working in after your studies, you will hear that “the customer is always right”, but is this business maxim really true?


Business is a collaborative process, between you and your clients. Your clients will have chosen you to fulfil their needs because they think you are the best option for them, taking into accounts everything from reputation to location to timings to price. Your job is then to meet their needs on time and on budget so that everyone comes out of the deal happy.

Some clients only want to to fulfil a single task and want little discussion about future improvements or changes, but others may appreciate some helpful ideas on changes and improvements they can make, either to find new customers or improve their bottom line. Through regular discussions you will come to understand what type of client you are dealing with and then act accordingly – some will be open to future business pitches, while others just want you for a single task.

Communication is key

You hope that everything goes smoothly with each client, but life is just not always like that and on occasion you some obstacles will be thrown in your way. This might be a change of direction for the client, or it maybe some personal circumstances that could impact your timings for delivery, or it could be something else entirely – an “unknown unknown”.

The most important thing to remember for every occasion is that communication is paramount to keeping the business relationship running smoothly. As long as both you and your client keep in regular contact with each other you can stay on friendly terms and always find a compromise that will be a success for both of you.

You should always stay on top of the relationship and continually monitor how projects are progressing to make sure you spot any of these issues as quickly as possible, however they arise – as only then can you address them and find a solution.


Whilst it is always worth listening to your clients’ needs and concerns, they are just as fallible as everyone else and they may need your guidance more than blindly carrying out their orders. If you have a strong relationship with your clients, then you should be able to tell them when they are making an unreasonable request or if there is a different and better way of doing things.

The best clients, and the ones that could become advocates for your business in the future, are the ones that respect your opinion and know that you have their best interest at heart. Maybe they need to hear a hard truth that one part of their business isn’t working, or maybe they would benefit from some ideas on how to grow into a new and untapped market – but they will only know if you talk to them and work alongside them rather than just blindly doing their bidding.

The customer is often right, but sometimes they need some guidance on how to be better.

Photograph by mcmurryjulie

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