Is The Customer Always Right? – Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor

Ask most folks and I’m betting the answer you hear will be, “Yes.” Ask us at Telephone Doctor and we’ll tell you, “The customer always thinks they’re right.” It’s the perception of that you need to work with and, as we know, perception is reality.

If you go with our theory that the customer always thinks they are right, handling them and solving their problem will become a bit easier.

When the customer thinks they’re right, they’re right. IN THEIR MIND! And that’s what is key. Instead of arguing with them and telling them they’re wrong, get the mentality that they believe they are right. Think as they do. As we know, many times the customer can be wrong.

True story time and this illustrates the picture pretty well.

We have trees in our backyard. I’ve always wanted to put some lights on a few of them so that they’d show up nicely in the dark. I called the lighting company and was satisfied with their estimate. We made a date for installation and the lighting company came to install the lights while I was as work. When I got home I was excited to see how the lights would look. By the time I got home it was dark out. I couldn’t wait to go out to the backyard and see how pretty the lights were. BUT WAIT; something is wrong. I looked out toward the yard and there were no lights! “Shoot,” I said. “They didn’t show up today.”

I called the lighting company early the next day and asked why they hadn’t come to install the lights in the backyard as they promised. (Yes, I was very nice.) “Oh, they were installed Mrs. Friedman,” the lady said. I came back with: “Yeah, well they’re not lit now. Seems as though, they don’t work at night. Please come fix them.” “Sure will,” I was informed. “First thing tomorrow.”

The next night I came home and peeked outside at the yard. Again, no lights on the trees.

So my next call the following day wasn’t as nice as the first call. “I’m sorry I paid you guys already,” I said. “The lights still don’t work! What’s going on?” I told her I wasn’t a happy camper.

“Well, the lights worked when the guys were there yesterday, Mrs. Friedman,” the frustrated woman said to me. “Well they’re not working now! Please come fix them or I’ll cancel the check.” (Yea, I got testy.) I was assured they’d come a third time to check that the lights worked.

Sure enough, when I got home that third night, no lights. So I immediately called my daughter who lives down the street. I asked her to come over so she could be proof the lights were not on and I wasn’t going crazy.

Linda came over and I said, “Look, do you see any lights? They have been here three times and keep telling me they work. But they must only work in the day time.” Linda looked out and she agreed no lights appeared to be on. She then opened the screen door to go out to the forest area and take a look at the trees up close.

It was dark out but I could see her out there and she bent down to do something. All of a sudden one light came on to one tree. I watched her and she did the same thing with the second tree and then with the third tree. Now all three trees were brightly lit by gosh!

She came back inside and I asked her if she had a magic wand. She smiled and said, “Look, it’s October and the leaves are falling. The leaves fell and covered the tree lights each day. I just wiped off the leaves.”

Wow! Powerful example of the customer is always right. I called the lighting service the next day on bended knee asking to be forgiven. I explained what had happened and they were very nice about it. I thought I was right, but I had been wrong.

Now some of you may be asking why the lighting place didn’t tell me about the leaves the first time they came out. That’s what I thought as well. But then I thought the person who took my call probably wasn’t the person who came out to fix it. That’s when I thought that their own internal communications weren’t very good.

The installer who came out should have told the person who took my call to call me and explain exactly what happened. He knew the leaves covered the lights.

But that’s a whole ‘nother article isn’t it? Bottom line: The customer always thinks they are right. It’s our job to help them see the difference without making them feel badly.

Do you have a story for us about when you thought you were right and you weren’t?
Could end up in my new book:
 Is the Customer Always Right?
Email us at:

2 Replies to “Is The Customer Always Right? – Nancy Friedman”

  1. Nancy i have enjoyed your article and also appreciate the truth about your story-Please send me more through my mail and we can share alot!

  2. I might have suggested that you title your article: “Does It Really Matter If The Customer Is Right? Answer: NO” and subtitled: Do you want to stay married?

    Quite often, the rightness or wrongness of the customer’s position is irrelevant to our decision. Our decsions are ultimately made for business reasons. Do we want to damage our relationship? What will it cost us in dollars and cents? What will that buy us in goodwill and future business? Is this a loyal customer who will appreciate our concession? Or despite these considerations, do we stand on principle? The fact that the customer may actually be right only makes our decison easier. When we are at an impasse, the tougher question governing the decison-making process is whether or not to retreat from the battle in order to win the war.

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