The phrase "the customer is always right" is dead wrong

Rule #1:  The customer is always right
Rule #2:  If the customer is wrong, re-read Rule #1
Rule #3:  When making decisions about your business, ignore the above two rules

An angry old lady customer.
Old Bitty Doyle is not a customer you can please

As a small business owner, how many times have you heard the first two rules above? You probably originally heard them from the same place I did, Tom Peters. Peters talked about it way back in the day with his book, “In Search of Excellence” in which one example he used showed how a simple grocery store became wildly successful by following the first two rules.

Now don’t get me wrong. If you run a B2C business like a restaurant, a retail store, or some other business where your customers come to you, then you dang well better please them, no matter how ornery they are. Even Old Bitty Doyle. Yes, even her. But, if you run a B2B business like a small software company, a consulting business, or a services-based business, and you are trying to make decisions about what features to build, or what services to add, you better think twice about listening to what your customers are asking for.

To illustrate my point, lets take the example of a small software company. What you’ll hear from your customers about the features they want is whatever cool features they hear that your competitors are now offering. So why wouldn’t you build the features your competitor is now offering? Funny you should ask because I’m going to tell you something that will save you a year of feature-chasing.

If you build what your competitor is already offering, you’ll spend all your time just coming to parity with your competitor


In the mean time, while you are building the feature your competitor is already offering, your competitor will go off and innovate something completely new and cool and all shiny and sparkely-like. And about the time you roll out your “me-too” feature, they’ll be rolling out that next award-winning innovative feature. So what do you get to do now? Well, you get to go to work trying to build their shiny, sparkley feature since Old Bitty Doyle is now crying for it (while your competitor goes right back to innovating something cool). Starting to see the pattern?

So think twice before just listening to, and delivering on, exactly what Old Bitty Doyle is asking for. And now that I’ve written this blog article, I get to catch a rash of s#%$& from my customers about how I never listen to them : )

Mashable wrote more on a related topic:
5 Reasons Your Branded Content Is Failing

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About Nate Goodman

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Nathan Goodman is a freelance fiction writer and the author behind The Special Agent Jana Baker Spy-Thriller Series. "A terrorist on the loose, a country in panic, and time is running out..." FOR A FREE COPY of book one, visit the author's website.