Hard Lessons: The Customer Really Is Always Right

By Keith Mitnik / April 04, 2024

A few years after starting Phoenix Display, I learned a lesson the hard way. We’ve all heard the phrase that “the customer is always right,” but sometimes, we choose to overlook it. If we think our process in a particular situation is especially valid, we might justify doing what we want we think is right instead of what the customer needs. Here’s how I discovered that the best business advice, and the key to real customer satisfaction, is to truly embrace that the customer is always right. 

Growing Customer Frustration 

Early on in building this business, we had a customer who makes electronic card readers for video games. They were using a unique 3.0” glass platform, and after several years, that 3.0” format was becoming less and less available in the market. In order to keep our customer’s configuration stable for as long as possible, we created safety stock of that glass.

Because it wasn’t a popular size, we were looking at larger minimum order requirements. We had to buy 5,000 pieces at a time. We made the customer pay for the safety stock we were holding, and we had to pass on the higher 5000 piece MOQs, too.

The customer was frustrated, but I believed I was doing the right thing to keep them from going line-down. So despite their reservations, I held them to those requirements. 


Losing A Customer

After several conversations about the situation, this customer got so frustrated that they eventually found another supplier who had better terms for this display. They were able to lower their MOQ and avoid tying up their capital for all the extra safety stock.

You know what? They were right. I assumed I had the best solution and they would just have to deal with my terms to have the uninterrupted supply that they needed. But,  I should have put in more effort to solve their problem. I could have had our supply chain team find another alternative glass source or negotiated better with our current source. We should have solved the cost and delivery problems and not let somebody else do it for us.


The Customer Is Really Always Right

I learned through this experience that the customer truly is always right. Even if their frustration wasn’t defensible and even if they hadn’t ended up getting another supplier to give them what they wanted, they still would have been right. Because here’s the kicker. When you decide your customers are wrong, they could simply stop being your customers

That’s never what we want here at Phoenix Display. Thankfully, I learned from this early experience and have since adopted the mindset that my customers’ needs always come first. Want to work with a supplier who maintains a positive, mutually beneficial relationship with their customers? We’d love to talk.

Topics: Customer satisfaction