Is The Customer Always Right?

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It’s no secret. I spent the vast majority of my adult life as a public servant, and accordingly, my only experiences with the business world consisted of things I read, and in being a “customer” of others.  So, when I made the decision to start my own business, I relied on the person closest to me (Mrs. Lawrence), who had spent her entire adult life in that world, to share her immense amount of business savvy.  Unfortunately, I don’t always follow direction well.

We’ve all heard, and at some point repeated, the phrase “the customer is always right”.  The origins of that can be traced back to the late 19th century and is generally attributed to a man named Harry Gordon Selfridge, who worked at Marshall Field’s Department Store in Chicago, from 1879 to 1901, and it later became known, although not widely, as the “Field Rule”.  Sadly, Mr. Selfridge passed away in 1947, so I’ll never have the opportunity to tell him that, in my limited experience, I think his slogan is, at times, crap.  Especially in service related businesses.

I assume that people come to me, for the first time, with computer related issues for very basic reasons.  They either lack the skills or the means to correct the issue(s) themselves.  And I’d like to believe that they come back in the future because I’ve gained their trust by doing the job, in a reasonable amount of time, and at a very fair price.  <Disclaimer: The previous sentence does not include perceived promises of complex database creations…..so don’t go there>

“Trust”.  It’s become the cornerstone of my business model.  As a first time customer, expect to spend some extra time at my office. I need to get to know a little bit about you and I need to tell you a bit about myself.  Ultimately, the goal is for you to place the care of your PC (personal computer) in my hands.  In order for me to adequately do my job, I need to know what you do with your PC. (General terms only please).  That way, I can provide specific fixes and tweaks to meet your needs, unlike the generic repairs often found in GeekySquadBigBoxStores.  You can also expect me to be somewhat opinionated.  And that brings us, finally, to Mr. Selfridge and the Field Rule.

Please know that I have spent years acquiring the expertise, knowledge, and education needed to do my job.  More importantly, I devote an inordinate amount of time keeping current with technology that seemingly changes by the minute.  When hiring a service person, I expect to advise them what I need done, but wouldn’t dream of telling them how to complete their task.  Accordingly, if a customer insists on telling me how to do a job, chances are, we won’t click and won’t be working together.

So, if your son’s, girlfriends, uncle, who “knows all about computers” has told you that something must be done a certain way, or that <insert software or antivirus program name here> is the best, then I’ll probably feel the need to send you to your son’s, girlfriend’s, uncle’s house to have your computer repaired.

Sorry Mrs. Lawrence and Mr. Selfridge, but on occasion, the customer isn’t right.

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