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Marketing: Is the customer always right?

It’s a question as old as time.

And no matter what you think, a happy customer is a returning customer. So many brands succumb to a policy of overpleasing, no questions asked.

But what happens when customers do take advantage of this policy? Or when they don’t understand your product that well… what then?

Instead of banging your head against the wall, Mickey Mellen suggests you make a small tweak to this centuries-old policy:

A customer is always right, he says, in matters of taste.

This means that—from a marketer’s perspective—a customer is never ever wrong. If you offer a red and yellow variation of the product, and the red sells, then red is better. Full stop.

The same goes if you’re a service provider. Let’s say you’re cutting hair and your customer wants an odd haircut. You just do it. They pay for it and they’re happy when it’s done.

The same goes for when there’s friction.

What if your product is great and your customer disagrees, but you’re both misunderstanding the situation?

Mickey provides Zendesk’s analogy as an example: a customer reaches out telling you their web chat is broken. You look at the account and notice that they didn’t implement it properly.

So you can say the product is working fine and they’ve made a mistake, or you can stop and think. Maybe your documentation should be clearer. Maybe you could improve your onboarding emails.

If you assume the customer is always right, you assume responsibility for your customer experience. And in the end, both you and the customer are happier.

The bottom line: In business, and especially marketing, it’s crucial to understand what your customers really want as it can help you retain them and improve your own brand.

So instead of blindly following the “customer is always right” approach, dive into their complaints and add the aspect of “taste and friction” to the policy.

Yes, they can be wrong.

But when they’re right, and you understand their intent, you can finetune your marketing strategy – from ranking better on search engines to making your ads pop with conversions.