Re: Is the Customer Always Right?

Subject: Re: Is the Customer Always Right?
From: SuePStewrt -at- AOL -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 11:37:12 -0500

gmarnell -at- OZEMAIL -dot- COM -dot- AU wrote:

>>>When it comes to matters of design, style and language, is the
customer/client always right? Or is this an abandonment of the
professionalism that technical writers rightfully assume?

>>An analogy is this: if you go to a doctor complaining of abdominal pains
and say: "Doc, I reckon I've got appendicitis", the doctor doesn't say
"Well; you're the customer. The customer is always right. So let's open
you up and take out the obviously offending organ.". <snip> So, if technical
writers consider themselves professionals, are they
entitled to say to clients: "No; page numbers can't be aligned along the
inside margins. <snip> <<

My feeling is that we are in-between the extremes of "the customer is always
right" and "doctor knows best." It is my professional responsibility to
point out to the client/customer that page numbers on the inside margin are
ineffective and explain why. I should make a reasoned argument, supported by
references if possible, for what I believe to be the best way to communicate;
that's part of what I'm being paid for, after all.

To simply do what the customer asks -- if I think it is an error -- is not
only unprofessional but dishonest, because I am being paid for my skills in
this area.

However, unlike the doctor, I can't tell my client/customer that I absolutely
will not take out his appendix or put page numbers at the inside margin. Not
unless I am willing to walk away from the job/paycheck. In the end, if the
client/customer insists, I'll do it his/her way.

But--I *will* document my own recommendations and the fact that a job is done
in a particular way despite my questioning the methodology.

Sue Stewart
suepstewrt -at- aol -dot- com

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