Maybe the Customer's Always Right. The Client Isn't

I picked up an interesting comment the other day:

The customer might always be right, but the client isn’t.

Intriguing thought. It came from a bright young woman who’s done a lot of PR work. She has a very good point.

The client relationship implies a professional relationship, like doctor and patient, attorney and client, or consultant and client. 

Customers buy stuff. Clients buy expertise.

Do you want your doctor to humor you when you’re wrong, and your health is at stake? I assume not.

What about a business planning consultant? I did that for about 15 years. One of the hardest things I had to do was (thank goodness not that often) tell the client when I thought he or she was wrong. That’s what I was paid to do.

My best long-term consulting relationship lasted through 12 years of fairly steady repeat business. Part of what kept that going was me having the resolve to tell them when the clients were (always just in my opinion, because nobody owns the truth, but still…) wrong.


  • Kendall says:

    Well said. I met with a very successful entrepreneur today whose sales and marketing consulting business is booming. Their core values are two-fold: Absolute Truth and Absolute Compassion. The truth is that the client is often wrong. This entrepreneur explained to me that compassion comes in when truthfully delivering that message to the client. A day with learning is a successful one indeed…

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