Do You Always Give The Customer What They Want, Even When It’s Not Good For Them?
I had an interesting exchange with a partner this week regarding a project for a client. The client is a rental property owner who wants a new website. She’s starting completely from scratch. So far all of her marketing has been through sites like Airbnb and VRBO, but she wants to branch out. The client has admitted that she knows very little about marketing, especially digital marketing and has so far been impressed with our team’s extensive knowledge. The purpose of the website is to give her business a home online, capture leads, and provide information for prospects and current customers.
As the client has begun showing us some samples of websites and expressed a desire to have something similar, it is clear that the she is not up to date on modern website design. For both the purposes of search engine optimization and for user experience, it is important that modern websites be “responsive”. This is a technical term in the industry that means a website will adapt to all screen sizes. Whether the website is viewed on desktop or mobile, which have extremely different screen sizes, it will still look good. Google and other search engines have indicated that this is now a requirement to rank higher in search engine results, and more importantly, it’s a design that accommodates multiple different users (more than half of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices). If the user becomes uncomfortable or intolerant with the website (which happens very quickly) they will click away and the website will not capture the lead.
When we showed the client a sample of a responsive website, she mentioned that she doesn’t like having to scroll, she wants it all to appear on the screen at once, and she showed us a sample of a website that looks that way on mobile. This is a blatant sign that the website is NOT responsive. In fact, it’s one of the signs I tell people to look for to know whether their site should be updated. If you have to tap to magnify or do the two-finger spread to zoom in, then it’s time to update the site . . . and this client is specifically asking for it!
As I was discussing this with my partner, she said to “always give the customer what they want”. Of course, I had heard that before and wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of it – it’s important to provide good service to the client. But what should you do when the customer wants something they shouldn’t have or that will not be in their best interest in the long run? This is a question that applies to any business in any industry. Should a mechanic install cheap parts in a vehicle because the customer asked for it? Should a fitness trainer let their clients have a doughnut? Should a pet store sell a sick puppy because the customer thinks it’s cute?
There is even an added level of complexity when partners disagree on how the situation should be handled. I value working with this partner and I want the client to be happy just as much as she does. But right now I feel quite a bit like Luigi in the movie Cars when Lightning McQueen asks him for black wall tires. Immediately Luigi changes his tone and says, “no, no, no. You don’t know what you want. Luigi knows what you want. Black walls, they blend into the pavement, you want white walls, they say ‘look at me, here I am, llloovve me.” Lightning replies by saying, “OK, you’re the expert.” If only every client was so easy-going.
I believe it’s best to have a minimum acceptable standard of quality and not to cross that line once you make it, because the cons far outweigh the pros. Yes, by giving the customer what she wants I could make a quick sale, generate more revenue, and she’d be happy for the time being. But what happens down the road when she doesn’t get what she wants out of it or when she becomes educated on the issue? Then she’ll be very unsatisfied and that won’t help any future dealings with her or with anyone in her circle of influence. On the flip side, if I don’t give her what she wants now she may not want us to finish the job and we’ve lost the sale. It’s also what my partner wants.
What do you think? Should businesses always give the customer what they want? Please comment and share with others.