Why the Customer isn’t King

by: May 27, 2015

why the customer isnt king

If you’re like me you’ve been hearing forever that “the Customer is King”? Perhaps it’s an a priori fact, a given, and needs to be repeated like a mantra to bestow its full power on the business.

Anyone that dares question this commandment risks a career-limiting response from the very highest levels. It’s a cornerstone of every successful company…

Or is it?

Here are 5 consequences of adhering slavishly to this principle that might just put it in perspective:

  1. If the Customer is King, then everything else takes second place, including staff. If you think your customers are more important than the people who work in your business then sooner or later, you’ll end up with staff that expect to be treated second-best. 
  2. If the Customer is King, you’ll have to do business with everyone that knocks on your door. Even those that are more trouble than they’re worth, those that can’t pay and those that won’t pay. Good luck…
  3. If the Customer is King, you’ll go to the nth degree to give them what they want – and so what if it costs you. You don’t say No to a King.
  4. If the Customer is King, what are you? A courtier, a jester, a servant? Don’t you want to be a King (or Queen) too?
  5. If you are subservient to your customers, you will expect your suppliers to be subservient to you… won’t you? Some might, some won’t.

So what we’re saying here, admittedly in rather stark terms, is that the ideal relationship between buyer and seller is not hierarchical – it’s a peer-to-peer relationship based on mutual respect and mutual need. Of course the buyer can go elsewhere if he doesn’t like your product or service, but you can go elsewhere too.

Too many businesses misguidedly think that putting the customer before every other need is the path to success. It’s not. A better way is to focus on your employees – treat them well within clear boundaries and they will do the same for your customers.

And then we can all be Kings.


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About Author

Chris has started, developed and managed a number of businesses both in the UK and abroad. He has extensive experience helping businesses overcome challenging issues to find growth, and has worked with a wide range of enterprises resolving managerial, strategic, team, communication and interpersonal issues.

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