Why You Should Listen to Customers Even if They're Wrong

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by: John Caddell

Even companies who believe "the customer is always right," if there are very many of them left, don’t mean it literally. They mean something like, "We try to accomodate the customer, even when they are wrong." But beyond addressing the immediate symptom (the heart of "the customer is always right" philosophy), there are valid reasons why you shouldn’t dismiss (or disregard) customer stories that you don’t consider accurate:

1. There is truth in their perceptions, even if the facts don’t add up. Customer outcry is emotional, not logical, in nature. If they complain, they are feeling pain, and even if they can’t articulate the reasons to your satisfaction, the root issue is very likely significant to you.

2. Customers have more credibility than companies. Recently, in my town, there’s been a conflict between the private water provider and the town government over a proposal to raise water pressure and whether that might be causing an increase in water main breaks. In an "open letter" to customers, the regional president of the utility tried to dismiss criticism of the program. Who was more credible to town residents: the elected town representatives, or a water company regional president?

3. Being factually correct is overrated. In marketing, perception is reality. Brand is an accumulation of perceptions. Jochum Stienstra discussed in a recent post how those perceptions create a profound, cognitive reality for customers. So, in focusing on the data and dismissing the perceptions, you may be missing the point.

4. They may, in fact, be right 🙂

Original Post: http://shoptalkmarketing.blogspot.com/2009/01/why-you-should-listen-to-customers-even.html