our ideas

Why your customers are better than you


“This is just ridiculous” is what you may be thinking. But let’s go back to the old adage the customer is always right and just think on that for a little while

Let’s breakdown this claim and take a few steps back because you probably think I’m crazy. To help clarify my claim, we are going to start with that very statement:

The customer is always right

Whether you think so or not, this is always true*. If the customer says that t-shirt at Kohl’s isn’t worth $35 and doesn’t fit right, it isn’t worth $35 and doesn’t fit right. Of course this only directly applies to the consumer that thinks it. However, the consumer that thinks it is likely to share what they think on social media, with their best friend, and on online reviews on the company website. Which leads me to my next point:

Customers are more influential and credible than you are

You heard me right, they are more credible than the company that sells the product. It doesn’t matter if Kohl’s thinks that shirt is fully worth $35 and fits consumers just fine. One consumer’s opinion can influence another consumer’s purchase quite easily. When it comes to decision time, a potential buyer will probably ask five of his closest friends what they recommend. They will also check out websites like Yelp and take a look at the customer reviews on the company’s website. Which, surprise, are made from even more consumers! According to this article, a whopping 70% of consumers look at online reviews before making a purchase. That is a market you can’t create and you can’t control, but it is important to monitor the online chatter surrounding your product. It is also important to take those reviews and customer ideas and listen to them:

Your customers know what customers want.

According to Bill Lee, from an article on franchising.com, in “one compilation of studies of 1,193 commercially successful innovations across nine industries by MIT’s Eric von Hippel, 737 (60 percent) came from customers”. This supports the fact that consumers know what buyers want; they work to fulfill their own needs and create and purchase products that they would want to buy.

So your next question is probably, “how can I be better than my customers?” because that’s obviously where every business owner wants to achieve! I’m going to break it down into three basic tips:

1. Listen to your customer! Even though you can’t meet all of their wants and needs, you can at least work to improve the products or services you sell to better fit your target customer.

2. Observe online chatter. It is important to Google your business and watch how often customers are posting about you and what kind of things they are saying. This obviously takes us back to point #1.

3. Make sure your customer receives the best service you can offer. Even if your product isn’t right for that customer, ensure that their experience is a good one. Great customer service can go a long way in online review sites, social media sites, and word of mouth chatter between friends.

What else do you think your customers are better at than you? What do you do to make the best product for your customers?

Until next time!


Fun fact: No one really knows who first uttered the phrase: “The customer is always right”. It is widely believed that is was first said by Harry Gordon Selfridge, an employee at the original Marshall Fields store back in the late 1800s. However, some say that Marshall Field, the founder of the original Marshall Fields and Harry’s boos said it first and it was quickly picked up by his employee, who is widely given credit for this phrase.

*To clarify, I would like say that the customer is always right in the customer’s mind and will tend to share with other people how “right” they are. Many times the customer has unsupported facts, terrible claims, and outrageous statements (I’ve worked in retail and sales, I’ve heard a lot of statements in which I utter under my breath “that customer is not right”) but in the end will only make the purchase if it is right for them.