Service of Listening to the Experts

April 17th, 2014

Categories: Experts, Interior Design, Listen, Service

I drop off dry cleaning at a satellite where there is no tailor to measure clothes that need adjustments. I asked the cashier if I brought in a pair of my husband’s slacks the right length could the tailor work with them to shorten a new pair of khakis? She explained that this wasn’t a reliable solution because all pants aren’t equal and don’t fit the body in the same way so the lengths could be misleading.

She told the same thing to a woman who brought in formal slacks and jeans. The woman asked for the slacks to be cut to match the length of the jeans. The cashier warned the customer and was experienced/smart enough to have her sign a receipt to confirm that she’d been so cautioned. Nevertheless the customer returned enraged when the formal pants weren’t the right length.

This reminds me of a similar selectively deaf client an interior designer told me about that I mentioned in a post long ago. Her client wanted to save money by ordering fabric panels for her window instead of a standard drapery style involving yards of fabric to fill the window with graceful folds.

The panels would be stationary, the designer warned, making the client a sketch that showed that they left the center of the window uncovered. The panels were fine, insisted the client, happy to save the cost of additional yards of expensive fabric.

The designer reiterated that she would not be able to cover the window with drapery fabric nor tie back the panels. The client said she understood and still opted for stationary panels. When the panels arrived, the client, a lawyer, hated them. She said “they don’t cover the window!” and subsequently sued the interior designer.

Do customers like this hope for miracles? Do they not listen? Do they distrust the expert? Can you recount similar examples?


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10 Responses to “Service of Listening to the Experts”

  1. EAM Said:


    I recently worked for a client who wanted to increase his sales for a machine shop (they manufactured parts). I worked with him on a telemarketing campaign and social media. He specifically instructed me NOT to ask the customer if they’d like to place another order when the rep. called the customers.

    You can probably predict the results. We got some good feedback and the majority of the customers were happy with their products so you would think it would be a good time to ask the customer if they’d like to reorder. The client was then disappointed/surprised when his sales didn’t increase.

    Also with social media, we posted a “Cool Part of the Day” and were asked by the client not to engage their followers. “Don’t ask them any questions or put up any links!” So, therefore, the outcome was dismal, no new followers or engagement with prospective customers. Some people just don’t get it.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a powerful example! Wow–much like the patient who keeps coughing and won’t stop smoking when the doctor says that’s why he/she’s coughing.

    Talk about tying your hands, setting you up to fail. So frustrating. I don’t know the person, but I wonder if his golf buddies told him he had to engage in social media so he did, without knowing why.

  3. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: “People always think they know “better.” That’s why we really don’t do Web design anymore….”

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Sounds like you and EAM have similar experiences.

  5. JPM Said:

    It depends upon who the expert is.

    Years ago, I went to see a doctor, who a close friend swore by, about a skin problem. The doctor, a pleasant enough man, insisted that he could cure my problem by treating it with arsenic. Even I knew that that idea had gone out of fashion back during the reign of Queen Victoria!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Sometimes old wives’ remedies work but you don’t expect a specialist to recommend one of them and that’s it.

  7. lucrezia Said:

    The unhappy customers deserve no sympathy, having thrown common sense advice to the winds. Why hire if not trusting the judgment of the employee? Calling such persons “experts” may be a stretch, but they should know enough of their craft to inspire confidence and have a following.

    PS Designer goofed in not having made client sign a contract describing the work. Too bad – it would have made a highly effective, not to speak of costly, countersuit.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The whole area of contracts is a complicated one. A person can spend energy and a ton of money fighting such awful clients as the one I described and end up with nothing, while neglecting profitable work.

    Though having such a contract might have stopped the lawyer to begin with.

    I’ve worked with interior designers……I’ve never been asked to sign a contract. I would imagine their fees would be higher if they needed a lawyer to write up each project.

    The other issue with this case–which I didn’t go into in the post–is that the lawyer/client was a friend of a happy customer and the happy customer was in the room during the discussion of panel vs. traditional drape, pros and cons. This woman refused to say booooo when the interior designer approached her.

    You can’t win with people like this.

  9. RCF Said:

    I think it is important that experts know what their clients are thinking. They must not allow for misunderstandings. Often times professionals allow customers to believe in “miracles” to get the job (and sometimes not).

    I am annoyed because some time ago my dry cleaner told me that my clothes could be stored there for the winter… then when I went to get my clothes, admittedly late in the season, they had been given away.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a horrible story! A phone call would have taken the dry cleaner a minute for goodness sakes.

    I have piles of similar tales of overselling in my industry, where PR people promise what they have no control over as in “Sure we’ll get your story in The Wall Street Journal.” So they get the account, make the fee for x months and don’t get in the paper. The honest agency that would never make such promises doesn’t get the job and the client distrusts PR agencies from then on. Nobody but the crook wins. And that’s just for starters.

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