What about the client

Is the client always right or wrong?

Created on 21 October 2022.

From my experience, there are two general approaches when it comes to the client or the customer. Both of them are extremes.

The first approach says that "The customer is always right". I'm sure you've heard about this many times before. There's even a Wikipedia page dedicated to it. Less known is the fact that this "quote" is actually taken out of context.

The actual context puts things into a slightly different perspective: the customer is always right in regard to any sort of personal preference. Let's take a color for example: If the client thinks that the green jacket looks better than the blue one.

After years and years of when this quote was held as one of the golden rules, naturally another side gained popularity. Naturally, it was towards the other extreme. That the customer is always wrong. That he doesn't know what he wants.

Famously, perhaps, is this quote: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." - this is attributed to the well known Henry Ford. But he might not have actually said it.

Ah, the Internet. The world filled with quick-wins. You've got to love it. But I digress.

Coming back to the real world, I find myself, again and again, looking for #balance. In this particular matter, this is the best moment to reach it. I find it much easier after going from one extreme point of view to the other to pick the best parts from each and create something new that makes sense and fits better.

So, what about the client? Is he wrong or is he right?

The answer to the question is...yes!

This might be confusing (it is - on purpose) but let me be very clear in the next part.

The client is always right when it comes to his particular domain. The client knows best what his business needs right now, what are the pain points, the roadblocks, the capabilities etc.

However, the client might very well be wrong about the "how". He is right about the "what", but not always about the best way to do that.

And that is where you come in. As a partner, consultant, agency, collaborator, perhaps even as an employee.

So yes, the client might not be right about the fact that he needs another popup on the website asking people to signup for the newsletter. But he is right about the fact that he needs a cheaper and more effective way to reach customers that have shown interest in his products or services.

So that is my advice. Whenever this type of request comes in, try to determine what is the actual reason behind the how. Go down layers and layers, uncover the needs and pain points, and then provide a solution.

This also applies when building a software product.

The client might ask for yet another button. Yet another option. But what does he really mean by that? Not doing it means you will end up with a product that has 25 different filters and 10 different options that nobody knows how to use.

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