It seems strange, especially in a largely consumer/customer-service based economy such as ours that the idea of firing a customer is largely taboo -- virtually unheard of!
Jeff Bezo's, CEO of Amazon drove the point home early in Amazon's debut about the importance of delivering quality services in the internet age when he said:
"You know, if you make a customer unhappy they won't tell five friends, they'll tell 5,000 friends."
(You would have thought that someone at United Airlines would have taken his advice -- now more than 5 Million people have heard that United Breaks Guitars...)
For the record, ever since Amazon became more interested in suing other booksellers, and cosmetic companies, I lost a lot of respect for them. But when then sued Barnes & Noble over their ridiculous patent on web-browser cookies known as "one-click" -- I cancelled my account and now I give all my business to local used book stores when I can, and support B&N on all new purchases -- thats 10 years of not buying from Amazon! I can't wait to get "the nook" e-book reader I pre-ordered!
Which really brings me to my point here: I'm probably not the right customer for Amazon in the same way Dave Carroll is no longer the right customer for United. In our cases, we self-selected out.
But what about those times when your obnoxious, irate, "I'm the always right customer" doesn't have the good sense to find another vendor? Or another job?
The tack I've taken is that I agree openly with them with a twist of lemon:
While the customer may always be right they are NOT always right for us.
Supporting an abusive customer can demoralize your workforce, undermines your credibility with your employees which can ultimately erode trust from the people that make your business go. When done in front of other customers legitimizes bad behavior which can spread like wildfire, and only perpetuates the myth that how they are treating people is somehow acceptable on their home planet.
Thankfully most of these temper-tantrums can be avoided by setting and managing expectations as early as possible.
Now, what happens when you start to think of your boss as your customer? Or your boss's boss? Or that egomaniac VP in the corner office? Or that insufferable paper-only lawyer in legal that thinks because she has a law degree that somehow makes her smarter than everyone else on the planet?? For a REALLY good read on coping with these kind of "bad customers", I highly recommend The No Asshole Rule : Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't , by Robert I Sutton.
And since it's Friday, for some additional amusing reading, check out the website Not Always Right dot com | Funny & Stupid Customer Quotes
So today's Big Idea is this: "The customer might always be right -- but that doesn't mean they are always right for you!"
What do you think? How are you handling bad customers?