You’ve heard this service maxim I’m sure:

The customer is always right…even when they’re not.

I’m also sure you’ve laughed at it and said clearly, they can’t always be right. I mean, some of the requests/emails read as though they were written by an insane four-year-old in the middle of a tantrum.

Yeah, I’ve had those emails too, and you know what? The client is right.


Perhaps they communicated their concerns poorly, and while that’s their fault, it still doesn’t mean that the issue they’re trying to convey should be ignored.

It means you need to dig deeper with the client and understand what the issue is.

Maybe there was a minor bug in your code. Your client sent a huge, complaining email and when you investigated the problem, it’s only a comma showing on a page.

Not the end of the world. From your perspective.

What you don’t know, though, is that your client has a history of bugs from a previous developer that were huge deals and thus are super sensitive to any issue. They don’t want to see that comma, and it’s a big deal that it’s there.

In that light, yup, you’ve got an issue and that issue is customer trust. Let a few more bugs through and you’re going to find that the customer will lump you in with the other developer who let big issues through.

We don’t do things for rude people

My daughter: Daddy, will you get me water?

Me: I’m sorry, I don’t do things for rude people.

My daughter: Daddy, will you please get my water?

Me: Sure.

Although your customer may be right, don’t let your clients treat you poorly. You shouldn’t be getting profanity-laced emails from them. They shouldn’t be questioning your integrity (unless you lied), or your worth as a human.

Don’t stand for that and make it clear that’s not how you allow your clients to treat you. They can find someone else to work with if that’s how they want to treat people.

Just because the client is right, it’s still not okay for them to abuse you.

The next time you get an email from a client that seems over the top, stop and think about what the real issue is — not just the symptom they’re telling you about.

Dive in with them, fix the root cause of the issue, and earn their trust.

photo credit: huguesndelafleche cc

3 responses to “The client is always right”

  1. Dorothy Avatar

    We’ve changed the maxim where I work.

    “The client isn’t always right, but they are always the client”.

  2. Jason Avatar

    I had a client who was complaining about the colour of their site whilst we’re looking at it on their computer, and in the same sentence, this client says they like the colour of their site on my phone.

    Solution: I tilted their computer screen back.
    Client reaction: Oh, that looks better.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Ha that’s awesome.