Sometime during any retail/wholesale training, we are taught that the customer is always right.
While in theory, it is always good to make them think they are right because it never pays to get into a fighting match trying to figure out who is justified in being upset about a situation.
Distraught customers just want the problem fixed. Denying responsibility never solves the problem. So we assume that the customer is right and do whatever we can to ‘right the wrong’.
So back to our question: Is the customer always right?
Here is what Sean Low says on The Business of Being Creative website
…in creative business, the client is NEVER right. Good service is about mutual respect, not acquiescence. It is about a willing on both sides to engage in honest communication with what it will take to imagine and produce art. Your job as both an artist and creative business owner is to lay it out plainly and specifically how EXACTLY that is going to happen. Your clients’ job is to show up, make decisions and pay you. If either of you do not do your job, you need to be fired.Pretty harsh? Maybe, but the alternative is to hand the keys to the inmates in an insane asylum all in the name of good service (the client is always right). Accommodation is just another word for mediocrity and has no place in creative business…
The statement that stands out in Sean’s quote is … “Your job as both an artist and creative business owner is to lay it out plainly and specifically how EXACTLY that is going to happen.”
After working with store buyers and producers, miscommunication can happen too easily. If you start your interaction with direct expectations for both parties right up front, misunderstandings can be avoided.
As a sales rep, when I take on a line, I develop a Sales Agreement (I don’t like to call them contracts as it sounds too stiff and formal). In this sales agreement, I line out exactly what I plan to do and what I expect from the producer. In other words, we both know where we stand before I even start selling their products.
Of course, confusion can still insue, but with no agreement, the confusion and misunderstanding can be even greater. I am a firm believer in ‘good fences make good neighbors.”
Before you engage in any business relationship with another person or company, make sure everyone involved knows their role and expectations of the arrangement.