Are customers always right?

The slogan “customer is always right” has always been popularised and used as in many large retailers. However, many argue that this will lead to customers being dishonest, having unrealistic expectations and try to misuse the product or service.

In my opinion, this last view is somewhat distorted. Both suppliers and customers need to co-exist for mutual benefit. The customer expresses a need which the supplier fulfils in the form of a product or service at a given price. However, with many suppliers in the market and many customers to win, the game has somewhat changed. On further research,  the phrase “customer is always right” was used more to create a paradigm shift by making the customer feel special rather than being viewed as unintelligent and indecisive.

However, there are also instances when suppliers create the need for the customer. A famous example dates back to the early 19th century when Henry Ford was working on vehicle manufacturing.  His famous quote sums it up perfectly:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Another example is from Apple and the invention of many cutting-edge products. Steve Jobs famously talks of this in one of his famous quotes:

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Both examples above, show that if firms had relied on customer feedback, they would have never been able to push the technological boundaries in products and services.

For this reason, a greater focus should be placed on customer satisfaction. The most basic definition for customer satisfaction is a measure of how well the customers needs are met through experiencing the product or service. Customer satisfaction is therefore important and does many things for a business, here are my top three:

Keeps the customer happy

As we stated earlier, today’s market is filled with a multitude of suppliers offering similar products and services with different quality and price points. It is therefore important to understand what your customer requires from you and what keeps them happy when using your product or service. Happy customers will buy more and refer your product or service which will lead to higher growth and greater returns.

Improves customer retention

The last thing you want is for your customers to choose your competitor over yourself. For this reason, it’s important to take satisfaction levels on the requirements they defined. Satisfied customers tend not to switch for minor reasons. For example, how many times have you heard people say: “I know they are more expensive, but I love the product!”

Identifies areas for improvement

In my business, I am obsessed with improving things. And the most valuable feedback I get from my customers, is around the areas of improvement. It tells me what I need to do to become world class and at the same time, win greater market share.

In conclusion, the discussion for customers being right or wrong is irrelevant and outdated. In today’s world, the phrase should be re-coined to say “customers should always be satisfied.” Satisfied customers create growth opportunities, keeping coming back and last help you improve your business.

Are you interested in carrying out a customer satisfaction study, please send an email to