Is the customer (client) really always right?

26 replies
I've just spent about 40 hours building a new website for a client to market his holiday home in Hawaii.

The client approved the design after about 5 modifications. But now the site is completed, he has changed his mind and thinks the old site "looks better visually". So he wants me to just add a "slideshow" to the old site, then he will keep the old site!

He's sent me 3 images for the slideshow - two of them are stretched and horribly distorted.

My first reaction is just to walk away and tell him we are obviously on different wave lengths.
On the other hand, I could do what he asks, create an ugly, ineffective site - take his money and then walk away.

I'm going to sleep on it. Will update this post after I make a decision.
#client #customer
  • Profile picture of the author swd123
    Always a tricky one - have you taken a deposit or anything for the new website? Is he still going to pay the agreed rate?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6198398].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author plainwords
      No deposit. Whether he pays, I guess, depends on whether I comply with his wishes to just slightly titivate the old site... or whether I walk away in disgust. In the latter case, I would just write it off.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6198431].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author MaxwellB
        Originally Posted by plainwords View Post

        No deposit. Whether he pays, I guess, depends on whether I comply with his wishes to just slightly titivate the old site... or whether I walk away in disgust. In the latter case, I would just write it off.
        You'll get to write it off sure but I hope you agree you should always get a deposit. In fact I normally try to get the whole payment up front by having that option be much less expensive. I've never lost any business over it.

        If you get nothing to start your obviously at their mercy even if any agreement says otherwise.

        I would do this. "Mr Prospect, I know you think the old site is more visually appealing but I build sites that convert visitors into customers and I don't beleive the old site does that. So we can do one of two things, I can redo your site, the images are very distorted by the way so it will probably look bad with those images, anyway I can redo your site how you ask and get paid the full amount we initially agreed since your site is completed, or I can finish the new site/make it go live and you can pay me for that. Either way payment will need to be made before I do anything else"
        Signature
        Get featured on Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg and other major media publications - Gain instant trust, credibility and close more sales!

        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6200106].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Shadowflux
          I think that "The Customer is always right" is more something to strive for than a cold hard fact. The real key is to just make the client happy. I've learned that customer service is probably the most important part of what I do and it's why almost all of my clients come back to me multiple times.

          In the future, I would say that you need to accept partial payment, if not full payment, before you start work. This is important for a few reasons, the most obvious being that it keeps you from working for free.

          One of the less obvious reasons, however, is that paying you money will make the client treat your work more seriously. Right now they're looking at everything you've done and trying to decide if they feel like paying you. Had they already paid you half of the cost, however, they would need to be more committed to all of their decisions and the work that you do.

          I would tell you to try to explain, as clearly and simply as possible, why your website is better than his old one. Tell him every reason why the new site is better. Point out how the new site can make him money, how it's easier to navigate, how it looks more credible.

          Think of it this way: The customer is always right and he liked what you've done so he was right about that. If someone has convinced him to change his mind then simply remind him why he was right about the work you've done in the first place.
          Signature
          Native Advertising Specialist
          Dangerously Effective
          Always Discreet
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6200194].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
    Originally Posted by plainwords View Post

    I've just spent about 40 hours building a new website for a client to market his holiday home in Hawaii.

    The client approved the design after about 5 modifications. But now the site is completed, he has changed his mind and thinks the old site "looks better visually". So he wants me to just add a "slideshow" to the old site, then he will keep the old site!

    He's sent me 3 images for the slideshow - two of them are stretched and horribly distorted.

    My first reaction is just to walk away and tell him we are obviously on different wave lengths.
    On the other hand, I could do what he asks, create an ugly, ineffective site - take his money and then walk away.

    I'm going to sleep on it. Will update this post after I make a decision.
    Your the expert, at least the perceived expert in this case.
    Its your duty, to tell him why he is wrong. He might not like it,
    he might not agree. But since you sold him on your expertise,
    then he is expecting you to tell him what the best thing to do is.

    He might not realize that either.

    Remind him of why he hired you.

    If he turns out to be a stubborn goat, well then if you decide to walk
    away, you can do it with a clear conscience.

    I have come across this situation before, and after a little investigating
    it turned out to be a family member bending my clients ear, telling him
    she liked this and that, and she did not like the new colors.
    Signature

    Selling Ain't for Sissies!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6198852].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author plainwords
      Yes, I suspect in this case it's the client's wife who is really calling the shots.

      It wouldn't really worry me to walk away and lose the money, if it comes to that.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6198888].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author ravi13efw
      Originally Posted by kenmichaels View Post

      Your the expert, at least the perceived expert in this case.
      Its your duty, to tell him why he is wrong. He might not like it,
      he might not agree. But since you sold him on your expertise,
      then he is expecting you to tell him what the best thing to do is.

      He might not realize that either.

      Remind him of why he hired you.

      If he turns out to be a stubborn goat, well then if you decide to walk
      away, you can do it with a clear conscience.

      I have come across this situation before, and after a little investigating
      it turned out to be a family member bending my clients ear, telling him
      she liked this and that, and she did not like the new colors.

      Good point - you are the expert and so it although the client would like another version and without being too pushy it may be best to show him why your version is best, if you can show him the differences and why it is a mistake to revert to the old site.

      Let us know how it goes and what you have done to resolve the situation.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6199096].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author swd123
    If it doesn't worry you then I would push for the site you have created, just ask him why he prefers the old - did you have an agreement in place?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6198982].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author agkfl
    No, the customer is not always right. That is a Big Box Store slogan..

    In this case, I suggest asking the customer why he perfers the old site, and that you can't create the slideshow with the images provided, and he will have to provide you with a new set of images.

    As for the old site, scrap it for now. Its a loss. You can push payment, but hardly a chance he will pay. I work with a cancellation clause in my contracts, and also paymnt in 4 quarters, or mid project deposit. In the future , just think smart.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6200041].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
    I think I know why she may prefer the old site better. I noticed this when looking at the 2 examples and it has to do with the text in the old example that give it a more personal feel. Maybe she was the one that wrote it and is emotionally attached to it, who knows.

    Even though your new design is more visually appealing it also has a certain cold and corporate feel to it.

    I believe that adding copy to your new design will make it more appealing.
    Signature
    Promise Big.
    Deliver Bigger.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6203060].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author rbecklund
    The customer is almost always wrong in my book, but they pay the bills. We've made some kind of lame ass sites in the name of keeping the client happy...
    That's why the half up front is good, it keeps them a little more committed to the process.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6203644].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author butuhdoa
    Banned
    [DELETED]
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6203645].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author plainwords
      OK, so here's my decision. I've decided to do exactly what the client wants. He's sent me a list and I'll follow it to the letter, distorted images and all.

      I spoke with him on the phone this afternoon and it hadn't even occurred to him the images were distorted (actual width of the image = 600px and stretched to 800px to fit the banner at the top of the site, so you can imagine how it looks).

      So I will do as he asks, take his money and part on good terms.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6204724].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
        Originally Posted by plainwords View Post

        So I will do as he asks, take his money and part on good terms.
        Then take this lovely site that you've created that he doesn't want, change the content and sell it on as it stands and make some more money
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209091].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author kvnkane
    your new site looks much nicer, but because you didnt get any payment the client now knows they can mess with you and your probobally going to bend over backwards to get them to pay you. get them to pay you iup front in future and dont work until you get the money.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6206578].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Next time get agreement on an up-front contract with your prospect before you accept them as a client.

    "This is how I work...we agree on the end result...you get three (or however many you're comfortable with) revisions...anything beyond that will be at an additional charge per revision. Are you OK with this?"
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6208628].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author RedShifted
    Gotta love the comment "the customer is always wrong", I can't even tell you how true that is.

    This one guy I'm working for now was telling me to put the text on his website in a way that I've never seen a business request before. I told him straight out "you're going to lose customers if we do it that way" he told me "I don't care it looks better".

    I said "just because it looks better to YOU, does NOT mean its going to look better to other people". I kindly stated "I can make you a poll and you can find out EXACTLY what people think about it" and he said to just do it.

    I wound up doing it and got paid. A week later this guy calls me and tells me "can you change the text to what we originally spoke about?" As satisfied as I was, I told him "I'm sorry but you're going to have to find a new programmer, my schedule is full".

    If people aren't going to respect your advice, your time is much better spent looking for people who will.

    -Red
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209027].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author eguinan
    No. The customer isn't always right. Many times he is wrong, but my job is to not argue with him.

    This is how I try to approach it:

    1. Listen fully. (Many times they had to build up the courage to say something. Maybe he even practiced what to say.) Let him say it fully.
    2. Acknowledge what was said. "So, I understand that you don't want__ you would like ___. Is that right?"
    3. After I get an acknowledgement from him that we are both on the same page, I offer a couple of solutions.
    4. I allow the customer to choose.

    The customer then...
    1. Knows that I feel he is important.
    2. Is confident that I understand.
    3. Knows that I am the problem solver again.
    4. Feels empowered and not forced to do it my way.

    I would save the sale and next time get at least some on the money up front or in escrow and have a contract to cover expectations going in and a plan to cover your time if he changes his mind.

    The fly in the ointment is the wife. If she is honestly calling the shots, better get her in on the meetings too. You will always lose when you can't deal with her directly if she is truly in charge.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209190].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author eguinan
    Oh and I really like the new site a lot more!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209192].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author wally247
      I agree....no comparison between the two sites.


      Get the money for the new site!
      Signature
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209306].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author IM nice guy
    Short answer: client is ONLY always right, if you NEED the money. This is the dark side of web design dude, scary stuff, I've been there...

    In future, if at all possible, you may want to assess what kind of clients you want to have relations with, and how you want it to work when they don't like your design all of a sudden, you need to have predefined rules in place that are based on your values, specific to what you want out of your business, and what you're willing to put up with.

    It's a tough lesson indeed, and usually one we learn the hard way
    Signature

    Warriors - Try LINKVANA For Just $14 First Month, Including Credits To Try Out The System! Check it out!

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209299].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author af7850
    The customer is always an a-hole. If I were you, i'd charge him the a-hole tax.

    Give him what he's asking for and get your money. Then, let him test drive your site for free. Split test, and when he sees that your site out-performs his, sell it to him for fair market value.


    Posted from Warrior Forum Reader for Android
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209514].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Ashera
    I had to learn from these same mistakes when I first started doing web design. ALWAYS draft an agreement with terms and pricing, and ALWAYS get at least 20 percent deposit. It makes them financially invested in the project, as well as legally.
    Signature
    If you don't change direction, you'll end up where you're going.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209539].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    Seems like a lot of stuff and nonsense in this thread.

    Why would you care what the guy's site looks like?
    Just don't put it in your portfolio... lol... it's not like
    it's your fault.

    Build the thing... take the money... walk away... and
    don't take another job from him if you find it that distasteful.
    Signature
    If you knew what I know you'd be doing what I do...
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6209557].message }}

Trending Topics