The Potential Client Is Not Always Right

There is an expression in business that the customer is always right. If you believe this expression to be true, you’ve never owned or operated a business. Because the expression couldn’t be more false. The customer is not always right. A few months back, a patron walked into a Chinese restaurant and then, after 22 seconds of observing that the restaurant was quite busy, wrote a review about the restaurant. He claimed that he had asked to be seated but was never given a table because of either how he was dressed or because he was a party of one. He wasn’t sure. Score one for the good guys though because this particular customer was caught on candid camera. And the man never even asked for a table. He simply walked in, observed a busy restaurant, and then walked right out. It was quite uneventful indeed. Of course, the review that he posted of the restaurant was later removed since it was defamatory, an express violation of law. If you’ve never seen this Chinese restaurant story, check it out here. Oh and check this one out too — it’s hilarious. These obnoxious customers, these complainers, got served indeed. Just not with food. And, we suspect, they ended up being very embarrassed.

When you interact with thousands of folks from all over the world, you’re bound to deal with a couple of bad apples from time to time. But let us say this here and now — the client, or the potential client, is not always right. If a student insists on including his violin playing prowess on his application, against our advice, that student does so at his own peril. We can advise him. We can tell him not to include the violin playing, that it won’t add to the quality of his application but will instead detract from it. But, at the end of the day, the ultimate decision rests with the student, who is submitting the application. We made this story up, just to give our readers an idea of how the client is not always right. Or how about when a client, against all of your expressed advice, communicates with admissions officers, asking them how their days go, if they had a nice sleep? Oy vey. We once had a student like this. We implored him not to contact admissions officers, people whom we know and respect, with frivolous, obsequious emails. And yet he ignored our advice at all but two schools. He ended up going to one of those two schools. So at least he listened to us on those occasions. Or, rather, his parents insisted he do so!

The potential client is not always right. Such is a myth born out of the idiom that the customer is always right. Some businesses will sit back and take it. We never will.

But the fact is that in over twenty five years of doing business (a quarter century), we don’t have many stories like these. That’s why we made one of the two right above up (as we said!). More often, we encounter complainers during free consults. Can you imagine — we hop on the phone with folks at no charge and they have the audacity to complain to us? The free consult is time out of our day that we happily schedule with students and parents. We make expressly clear in advance of the session, in writing, that the free consult is not to discuss a student’s particular case for admission but rather simply to answer questions about our service offerings. This is included as information on the free consult when prospective clients fill out our form as well. So when folks want to pick our brains about their children, they often find themselves disappointed and wanting to lash out — which, like the Chinese restaurant, we will have absolutely none of. Absolutely none — we’ll serve them right back.

We are a proud American business. We charge for our services. Our expertise doesn’t come for free — nor will it ever. If a prospective client doesn’t like this, too bad indeed. Oh, and one more thing, sometimes prospective clients want us to sell our business to them. They come to us under the impression that we so desperately want their business that we will do what it takes to convince them to become clients (you should hear their tone!). If only they knew (if they did their homework and read our blog even somewhat regularly, they would!) the free consult is as much for us to determine if we wish to work with a prospective client as it is for them to determine if they wish to work with us. And if they don’t, they don’t. We won’t lose a wink of sleep over it. Not a wink.

 
 

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