08/09/2012 04:13 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2012

Is the Customer Always Right?

The customer is always right. So says the old expression relied on for years to indicate that when it comes to customer service, customer demands should always be met, no matter how unreasonable.

But things don't always go to plan and when customers feel let down they have always wanted to express their disappointment. This has now become easier with the advent of social media.

Previously an upset customer would tell their friends and family about poor service; now they can write a blog and publicize the blog on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Their friends can republish the complaint and in minutes thousands can see the complaint -- possibly even more if a friend with a large online following also passes on the message.

You have probably tried this yourself. I know I have commented on service from hotels, airlines, and restaurants and almost always had a response. Times are changing.

But there is an even more important aspect to good service than avoiding complaints. Recent research by Accenture found that 55 percent of consumers who receive poor service from their insurance company are more inclined to commit insurance fraud against that company -- as if the poor service means they deserve it.

The Huffington Post even collected together ten recent customer service disasters where customers retaliated in various ways -- all spurred on by poor service.

What is clear from these examples and from scanning the social web is that customers are becoming more vocal than ever. They have a platform to complain and with tools like Tripadvisor now informing many buying decisions, that voice is more powerful than ever.