Gary Vaynerchuk Says The Customer Is Always Right As Long As You Want Their Money


Gary Vaynerchuk Says The Customer Is Always Right As Long As You Want Their MoneyBy Gary Vaynerchuk

For some context, I grew up in a retail store where we would have 100s, and eventually 1,000s, of people come through the store every day and buy product. Transaction after transaction, I heard the phrase “the customer is always right.” I also heard it on the news and television and who the heck knows where else. Oddly, it’s a motto that my dad never imposed on me, but I slowly understood what it meant and it’s something that I’ve always believed in. It was a mantra that became the backbone for Wine Library’s growth.

Even when I had a customer who was irrational, unprofitable, or downright emotionally difficult, there was something that was inside of my gut, my DNA, that never allowed me to waiver from “the customer is always right.” It’s an attitude that I practiced and it’s a belief that I thought was pretty commonplace in the sales world.

Over the last few years growing Vaynermedia, I have observed a behavior that has really taken me aback. I have seen it with some of my employees (luckily only a few), many of our other agency partners, platform partners, representatives from the Facebooks and Twitters of the world, television media buyers, and really the entire ecosystem of the agencies that service the biggest brands; there is an enormous amount of complaining about the customer. These complaints about the client range from “unfair deadlines,” to “too many requests,” to “emotional swings,” to “always changing their minds.” And those are just a few.

I find this fascinating because as a client service provider, whether you’re the 600+ digital agency with Fortune 500 clients or selling a bottle of wine to a local customer, you are more than welcome and more than capable of firing your customer. Yes, firing.

What I mean by this is that the customer is always right as long as you expect and want their money. If you don’t care about their money or their business, then the customer can absolutely be wrong. For example, I’ve fired clients when it’s negatively affected the people who are my “family” (my company) that I value more than the client itself.

But, if you’re asking someone to pay you money that you want, they have the right to put demands on your time and resources and have you pander to them. On the other hand, you’re more than welcome to not accept those terms. But, accepting those terms and then crying about it has become a massive vulnerability in the B2B space.

The Customer is Always Right

I’m writing this article very simply for two sets of people: (1) for the 7-8 employees at VaynerMedia who I think cry too much about customer requests and don’t realize there are 50 betters ways of handling the situation other than crying about it. You’re more resourceful than that.

(2) For the rest of you who consume this article, you are more than welcome to not do business with anyone you don’t want to, especially if their demands are not worth the time and effort. But, realize that you’ll have to deal with the ramifications of what they’ll say or what will happen in return.

You have to think hard about it. Sometimes there’s value in retaining a client or customer and you just have to overlook that one difficult project or sale.

Before you complain, remember that the one who pays has the leverage.

Article originally appeared here.


1 Comment

  1. gra8dane on at 8:40 AM

    When I first saw the title of your piece – my first reaction was…that’s nonsense – they’re not always right, there are exceptions. I was assuming you would see no conditions under which the customer could be wrong. After reading the piece I realized we are of similar minds on this topic. You identify conditions under which the customer can be wrong…they are very much the exception vs. the rule…but in my career I have seen customers/clients that needed to be fired…and it’s been done. Given that – I agree that the types of complaints you cited such as “unfair deadlines”, “always changing their mind” etc – are a part of doing business…and in general, are not suitable complaints. In my experience, those types of comments are what most every day business looks like. As a customer myself, I’m sure I’ve given unfair deadlines and changed my mind a little too often at times. An agency that would fire me as a client – for that – would probably not last very long…and wouldn’t be someone I’d want to do business with anyway. That’s a very long-winded way of saying that common sense to me is that “the customer is right the vast majority of the time…so stop complaining”!

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