Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

21 May 2006, 14:30 p.m.

The Customer Is Always The Customer

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2006 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Sometimes I wish I could defend "Keep it Simple, Stupid" with flair and confidence to people who think they need things that they probably don't. Folks who say "the customer is always right" have almost never worked retail. 99% of the customers are right; the 1% that are incandescently wrong bat off all attempts at reasonableness.

How do you kindly tell a prospective customer, "You are looking for something that our product does not and will not do"? It helps if you weren't trying to sell your product in the first place. Christopher Petrilli, a user of the open-source bugtracker Trac, writes about its ease of use and consequent design tradeoffs.

Honestly, if you can't trust your developers to set the box on a ticket to the right setting and need a nanny to do this for you, then you have problems infinately worse than lack of "workflow".....

Just my two cents, but if this is your "deciding factor," then I think you need to re-think your evaluation priorities......

Again, Trac isn't all-things-to-all-people, and so if you absosmurfly must have a formal workflow system, then I suspect you're going to need to look elsewhere.

Basically, I have been doing corporate customer service long enough that I find clear and straightforward "We won't do that and your premises are wrong" answers extraordinarily refreshing. I'm still trying to figure out why the Trac and PuTTY examples feel fresh and the 37 Signals "It Just Doesn't Matter" post feels grating and arrogant.