A healthier view of “the customer is always right.”

A healthier view of "the customer is always right."

Just for entertainment… take out the word customer, and put in “wife, husband, boss…” Any important relationship where power and authority are traded upon in mutual need. Would any right-thinking person look at a sentence “my husband is always right” and not see relationship disfunction? One might call it codependent.

Here’s the thing… we still live in a service industry. We subsist at the pleasure of the clients who will pay us for valuable services. But we need to foster healthyrelationships. The best solution is a simple twist…

The customer may be right.”

Maybe they have a point in switching their logo to bright magenta… Maybe you’re right, and their rebrand is completely unnecessary. You trade openly and fairly with the best information serving the challenge, not the client. They don’t have to be right, you don’t have to be right. A healthy relationship is open and receptive to dissenting ideas.

Try adopting the position of the objective skeptic. That role allows you to make your case without being adversarial. It allows you to counsel in a way that the solution is right – not either side of the relationship. Speak your mind openly but be ready to change your position if it makes sense. My favorite arguments start with “It seems to me….” Very non-confrontational. Very objective.

At the end of the day,  a relationship where one side is always right will not inspire the best solutions.


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Eric Berrios is responsible for client strategy and client relationship at Realm in Atlanta, GA. Since 2005, he has been driving business-to-business clients towards setting and achieving their goals and gaining a stronger sense of brand purpose.

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