"The customer is always right" saying dates back as far as 1908 when French hotelier Cesar Ritz was credited with stating 'Le client n'a jamais tort' or 'the customer is never wrong.' The motto was popularized in the early 20th century by department stores such as Marshall Field's and Selfridges. The original idea was to encourage staff to behave as though the customer was special, and always correct, even if they were not.
More than 100 years later, we have evolved into a customer driven world in which companies strive daily to "delight" customers. With the rapid adoption of cloud computing, social media and mobile devices, customers are increasingly more powerful and upping their expectations.
2013 saw a few particularly interesting customer-focused initiatives:
Internet of Customers
Dreamforce 2013 was all about the "Internet of customers." The idea is that customers are constantly connected using their "things" or devices. Whether it is a tablet, telephone, or computer, there is always a way for a customer to reach out. If their needs are not met through these channels, the complaining begins. One element of the "Internet of customers" is the customer journey. It is critical to understand the process, or journey, a customer will take to reach out to a company. Failing to interact with customers through every possible channel is an open door for competitors to do so.
Amazon Kindle Fire Mayday Button
Instead of struggling to keep up with ever-growing customer expectations, last year Amazon took great pains to leapfrog competition, and ultimately alter customer expectations across the board. With the buzz about Amazon delivery drones, it is easy to forget that the Mayday button was released last year. Mayday's beloved "Amy" is the ultimate customer service representative. With the tap of a button, you can have a live chat with a representative to solve whatever Kindle Fire related problem you may have. With one Skype related product, Amazon has completely changed customer expectations.
2014 promises to deliver similar progressions towards a completely customer run world. Expect industries to make moves similar to Amazon, attempting to lead the way, while others fight diligently to keep up.