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Is the Client Always Right? When to Argue and When to Quit

Apr 21, 2014 | By Irfan Qazi | 0 Comments

Topics: Customer Service, Clients, Industry Insights, Management

There is an old saying in business that has been passed down through the generations. It refers to the idea of “the customer is always right.” What isn't necessarily clear, especially to the customers, is that the aforementioned saying was never intended to be taken literally. The saying isn't actually putting forth the idea that all complaints from a customer are going to be valid. More specifically, it means that you should always do what you can to appease a customer regardless of whether they’re actually “right” in the first place.

However, in today’s business world, even that idea is a bit antiquated. Whether or not the client is actually always right and when you should argue for a position or quit while you’re ahead is something that you’re likely going to have to address on a case-by-case basis.

Sticking Up for Yourself

Sometimes it is actually very beneficial to stand up for both yourself and your business when it comes to dealing with customers. If a customer is clearly trying to take advantage of you in some way and is falling back on the idea that “the customer is always right” as a defense, you need to take a long and hard look at what you’re actually being asked to do.

Even if a client has been the victim of some type of unfortunate customer service incident, if they’re demanding compensation that greatly outweighs the act that has taken place, it is worth sticking up for your organization. If you can tell that a customer is more passionate about gaining the upper hand and taking advantage of you in some way, you need to stand up for what you know to be right. Keep in mind that you aren't just sticking up for the principle of the situation that you find yourself in, but you’re also sticking up for your business as a whole and the reputation that goes along with it.

Giving in When Appropriate

In other situations, however, it will ultimately be worth it to just say “yes” and nod without getting into any type of a fight at all.

Whenever you find yourself in a potentially tricky situation with a client, think about what is at stake. If there’s one thing that you don’t want to develop in the business world, it’s a reputation for fighting customers when they have complaints. If a customer is being demanding but ultimately isn't asking for too much, you may want to just give in and meet their request even if they are technically “in the wrong.” While it may feel good to win the battle, you could potentially lose out on future business if that person starts posting negative reviews online or otherwise starts to spread less-than-positive word of mouth with regards to the situation.

Keeping a Level Head

If you do plan on putting up a “fight” and standing your ground, it is very important that you do so in a very thoughtful and delicate way. Even if you’re being yelled at and berated by a customer, it will be more than worth it to keep a level head and come out on the moral high ground in that scenario. If the client is screaming, don’t try to scream louder. Instead, suggest that it may be best that they find another service professional to fit their needs. Indicate that you don’t think that you can fulfill their requests and for their own benefit it may be helpful if they look elsewhere for services. Doing so can potentially alleviate an uncomfortable situation, and will retain the reputation that you've worked so hard to build and cultivate at the same time. Even if you’re in the right, yell along with the client, and get your way, people will never focus on what you want them to. A potential client won’t see a company representative who was willing to yell to stand up for what they believed in. They will only see a company representative who yelled, period, when confronted with a customer issue.

Bottom line? Keep your cool when dealing with customers unless your reputation, integrity, or dignity is at stake. You will hardly gain anything by having irritated, angry, and dissatisfied customers.

The Author

Irfan Qazi

Irfan Qazi is V.P. of Customer and Technical Support at BQE. He joined the company 20 years ago and has been the force behind globalizing BQE's customer services. Irfan says he has been fortunate to meet thousands of professional services companies, each with a unique story. Outside of work, Irfan enjoys traveling with his family, especially camping in Yosemite National Park where he can temporarily disconnect from technology and recharge.

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