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What If The Customer Isn't 'Right'?

One of the greatest challenges any business can face, is making the decision to say ‘no’ to a customer.

Most of us know the old adage, “the customer is always right” – and we are also aware that they aren’t (really) “always right” – but rather, explaining to that customer why they are wrong is typically bad for business. This is all well and good for a product return, invoice discrepancy or service issue; but what about when the problem lies between two divergent opinions regarding best practice? For example, in training.

What if the client insists on a learning medium that you are certain will translate into a poor learning experience; would you say no?

What if the client insists on incorporating content that won’t advance the learning; would you say no?

What if the client insists on utilizing activities, or learning tools that limit or negatively impact participant engagement; would you say no?

The answer to all of these is yes (and no).

I believe it’s the duty of any service provider, whether large or small, to provide their expertise at every juncture of a project, including decisions around: look and feel, content and delivery method.

Sometimes an initiative warrants compromise and sometimes acquiescence. However, occasionally, just occasionally, it warrants saying ‘no’. As agency partners, we are in the business of creating learning tools, curriculum, programs etc. that drive learner engagement and knowledge transfer. We are experts in our craft and (I believe) we do ourselves and our clients, a disservice when we abandon that expertise by simply saying, ‘yes’, when we know the correct response is ‘no’.

There are few things more painful as a business professional than walking away from a project – unless you know that project will hurt your brand, more than it will help the clients'.


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