The customer/client is rarely right

We have a client in the in the personal finance industry that helps people get out of debt and for the past two months we have been managing and executing their social media strategy.

Part of this strategy is defining the content, branding and overall message you want to convey. This is key because it helps people determine what you stand for. At the beginning we told the client that his business had the perception of being a fraud. With so many businesses that claim to help one get out of debt we weren’t surprised.

Anyways, in order to break that pattern we decided that we would post only useful ‘how to get out of debt’ (not the type that’s on ezines) content through Twitter and Facebook. My client did not agree with this idea, they wanted to post financial news (obvious to everyone else) from reputable sources. News that keep confirming how the world is going to end because our economy is still in the rut.

They think this is what people will be interested in reading. Well bo-ho! I questioned this assumption and fired back that people are already aware of this since there isn’t a day that goes by that we’re not reminded of it. Should we create more noise?

I said let’s do a small test and see what type of content people respond better to (this can be measures easily). Sure enough, regurgitating information was not helpful. The client was taken back by this because they believe they should keep scaring people of the sad state of the economy in order to get them to comply.

Unbelievable isn’t it?

Like I’ve written before, once we become experts in our field we have a tendency to get into a box and rarely come out to get some air and much less get out of the box. This makes one think he has all the right answers. But when your answers don’t fit the current reality, you have to be aware and overcome the gap between what is real and what you think.

Right now the gap many businesses fail to understand is how people want to be engaged and communicated to. The old rules of ‘push marketing’ no longer apply. My client, like many, still has this mindset.

There are other factors at play in this example, but point is the customer/client is rarely right.

There are countless businesses and people who do what the client wants. Sometimes this is a good approach, but most of the time it’s not. Personally and professionally, I have no problem questioning mi clients or customers intent. Why? Because I put myself in another person’s shoes. I’ll question the assumption behind the intent and put it to the test. This way, we can ‘help’ the client/customer understand and hopefully rethink their position and therefore make a better decision.

We have a responsibility to serve our clients/customers, to do what’s in their best interests, but also to help them evaluate their decisions.

That’s my story for today. What do you think, in what cases is the customer/client right?

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  • Kevin Mcfarthing

    Hi Jorge,

    I disagree with your headline in the use of “rarely”.  Quite often clients are right, but they need the help of people like you and me to refine and build on their accurate intuition.  Where your article is spot on is that we should always challenge assumptions that clients bring, to make sure they are built on solid foundations and not just received wisdom.  And if we think they are wrong, to push and push for what we believe is right.  We have the benefit of being outsiders, and should use it.

    Thanks

    Kevin

    • Hi Kevin (@innovationfixer:twitter),

      In reality both sides are right. At least that’s what we like to think in our heads. So it’s a matter of meeting somewhere in the middle. It’s a lot like romantic/personal relationships.

      Thanks,

      Jorge

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