Is the customer always right?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “no.”

In the first place, the customer doesn’t always know what they want. The first time I heard of deep frying a turkey, I balked.  You mean, the same thing you use to cook French fries, you want to cook a turkey?  But when I tasted it…pure deliciousness.

In the second place, customers don’t necessarily want to switch, especially when they’ve already switched a few times.  When Gmail first came out, I just rolled my eyes.  “Another e-mail platform, goodie.  I’ll add it to my Hotmail-AOL-Yahoo collection.”  I thought I was done with e-mail clients and didn’t want to switch.

And finally, there are just some customers that have no idea what they are talking about:

Service Provider: Ok, we’ve pushed the site live.

Client: Why isn’t the site #1 on Google yet?

Service Provider: We just pushed it live five minutes ago.

Client: Optimize the fireball.

Service Provider: I’m sorry? Do you mean the firewall?

Client: I need more hits NOW, so I need you to optimize the fireball. I know what I’m talking about!

Service Provider: We’ll get right on it.

So, no, I don’t think the customer is always right.  However, don’t make the mistake in thinking the customer is always wrong.  I’m sure if Colgate would have done just the tiniest bit of market research, many people would have told them not to launch a brand of frozen microwave meals.  On a less negative note, it was a group of potential customers who discovered the many uses of post-it notes, a product built on what was thought to be a useless invention.

Somewhere in between “always right” and “always wrong” is where you need to define your business, as an entrepreneur.  For us at Fellowstream, we’re looking into a service called Get Satisfaction for our beta.  That way, we’ll be able to get information on what customers like and don’t like about our first dry run, and use our brains to adjust accordingly.

-Deborah Fike

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