One of the things we hear regularly in our culture is that “the customer is always right.” It’s a customer service mantra designed to focus on making the customer happy at all costs. While it’s good business to provide courteous and professional customer service, and do what you can to make things right when you mess up, the reality is that the customer isn’t always right — and sometimes it’s not worth it to keep trying to please that customer.

When the Customer is Wrong

Sometimes, all a customer wants is to return an item, or to be heard in a situation where s/he is unhappy. It’s not too hard for customer service to take care of the customer and move on. It’s sometimes even possible to resolve the problem using social media.

Other times, though, the customer is clearly wrong and becoming belligerent. Sometimes, a customer just wants to be right. In some cases, a customer might realize that s/he has made a mistake and doesn’t want to admit it or apologize. These customers want you or your team to admit wrong-doing and let them their way.

Unfortunately, if you cave into these clearly wrong and bullying customers, you could end up causing morale problems for your entire team. Your employees want to know that you will stick up for them. While you want to provide outstanding customer service and encourage your workers to do the same, you also don’t want to encourage poor behavior from customers.

Make sure you know where the line is. If a customer won’t listen to your suggestions and refuses to be satisfied, and is harassing your employees, you might need to just cut your losses and move on.

This happens regularly in the world of services. Freelancers, hairdressers, consultants and others routinely need to decide whether a problem client is worth the trouble they bring. Someone who constantly complains and who is always looking for more than they paid for can suck up your time and energy. When this happens, you don’t have the ability to adequately handle your other obligations. You need to know when to fire a client as well as a customer.

Are You Better Off Without that Customer?

It can be hard to decide to let a customer or client go. After all, you might want to hold on to the income, or you worry about the loss of business from a customer’s network. However, in many cases you are better off without such customers and clients. If someone keeps causing problems, and if you find yourself needing to spend more time and energy appeasing this customer, you won’t be able to focus as much on the big picture items.

Sometimes, just getting that negativity out of your business and your life can improve the situation immeasurably. Take the time to consider whether or not you want to keep dealing with a wrong customer. If you can boost morale by backing your team, and you can focus on other aspects of making your business great once that customer is gone, let him or her go.


Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hostt, specializing in helping businesses with hosting their website for free, for life. Previously he was the co-founder of Pixloo, a company that helped people sell their homes online, that was acquired in 2012.

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