Is this a fair statement? We keep hearing this everywhere, whether it is sales training, conferences, internal discussions, television commercials or sometimes from clients as well. Quite often, we find ourselves repeating this statement.
Being in a client-facing role for over 20 years, I have used this statement multiple times. Over the years, there have been situations where we have compromised and given away a few things such as price, features or services to the client. In those situations, I use the same line to justify my actions. Did we do the right thing by saying “the client is always right?” Now when I look back, I realize that many times it is not a matter of who is right or wrong. Each situation is unique and sometimes actions must be taken based on a combination of different things.
In any sales or service process, we must think about the following:
- Empathy: We all know the oxford definition of empathy but do we actually get into the client’s shoes and see their point of view? After being in their shoes, do we try to rationalize and convince them of our point of view? In my definition, this is not empathy; this is sympathy (towards yourself).
- Education: The client knows its business best in the same way that we (should) know our product and area of expertise. It is our duty and responsibility to educate our client and steer them in the right direction. Do we do the right thing or is our point of view skewed as we try to educate them while thinking of what is good for us?
- Competition: Are we scared of the competition? Do we just try to highlight our best features, which beat the competition with no actual impact on the customer? Are we just looking for differentiators or USPs to impress upon the client?
- Mitigating the risk: Are there client managers who beat the odds and take the stand on what is right? Or are the managers first looking to safeguard jobs to avoid any mishap and mitigating the risks? Instead of what is “RIGHT,” this individual picks what is “universally accepted.” This is more the individual’s safe approach rather than the organization’s approach.
If you don’t ask yourself these questions, you can have short-term gains by skewing any of the above points but in the long term, you won’t be able to hold the fort. Long-term focus requires saying “NO” to the client and walking away from the business to make the client successful. Our job is to empathize, educate and provide the client with the right solution for them. For any company to be successful, you have to understand that the client is mostly, but not always, right!