The Customer Is Always Right… Except When They’re Not

The customer is always right! Always. Or so the conventional wisdom goes. However, we all know that sometimes customers ask for things that you just can’t do. How far do we bend to accommodate them? Is there a point where it’s OK to let a customer go? Or are they always right no matter what wild things come out of their mouth? I recently was faced with this dilemma on one of our client’s Facebook pages.

The client, Better Than Bouillon (BTB) is a brand of food bases that can be used to make soups and other delicious dishes. It’s very good (no really, it is), but it’s not for everyone. A fan named Bobbie posted a link on the BTB wall last week. The link was to a blog post talking about how the ingredients in BTB aren’t natural enough. This put me in the unique position of having a dissatisfied customer who’s request (more natural ingredients) is borderline impossible. BTB can’t just overhaul their entire supply chain and manufacturing process because Bobbie asked for it, no matter how great of a guy Bobbie may be. The “customer-is-always-right” mentality is suddenly at odds with, well, reality.

One of the first things every brand needs to learn is that you can’t please everyone and trying to do so is counter-productive. In this case, I would never succeed in convincing Bobbie that it’s OK to eat processed food. Better Than Bouillon is not unhealthy, but it is a packaged, store-shelf product. There is a demographic of food consumers that simply won’t eat packaged food products no matter how healthy they may be. That’s fine, but these people are not our target market. So this is what I said to Bobbie:

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I was understanding toward his right to not use our product, offered to discuss specifics if he chose to deliberate more and then made a gentle suggestion about another BTB product he might not have been aware of. What I didn’t do was jump into a discussion of the general healthiness of processed food that would likely have been a lose/lose for both of us. It’s tough to acknowledge, but sometimes the best thing a brand can do is be amicable and let a disgruntled customers go.

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