What Kind of Customer Are You?

by Frank on February 18, 2010

As marketers, business-owners, or even customer-service reps, none of us like bad customers.  They take up an inordinate amount of time, they complain, they’re rude to anyone they encounter, and generally seem very unhappy with life in general and are taking it out on your company.  As many others have written about, I think such customers should be fired.  Give them their money back, send them on their way so they can get therapy or whatever it takes for them to figure out why their outlook on life is so negative.

However…

Are you that guy?  Are you the bullying customer who thinks they have to be demanding or they’ll never get good service?  That waiters are generally lazy people who will do as little as possible to make sure your order is right?  Or customer service reps are generally stupid people who just don’t want to offer good customer service?  When something goes wrong with your order, do you send flaming emails or make incessant phone calls blaming the company for everything from messing up your order to destroying the economy and causing global warming?  If so, you may be revealing far more about your own insecurities than “the help’s” shortcomings.

Remember The Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule – “do to others as you would have them do to you” – (NOT “whoever has the gold, makes the rule”) goes back several centuries.  Jesus famously quoted it, but he wasn’t the first one to advocate some variation of it.  And it’s true – even if you only look at it in a purely transactional sense.  If I treat you well, you’re likely to treat me well, and, of course, the opposite is also true.  When that bully of a customer calls in, tearing into your staff and demanding access to every manager in the company and your personal cell phone number – does anyone who interacts with them actually feel more motivated to help them?  Or is it more of a “what can we do to make them go away?”  On the other hand, the customer who is a delight to work with inspires goodwill in the people who deal with them, making it far more likely that they’ll get help.

So the next time you get on a kick about firing bad customers, ask yourself what kind of customer you are.  Do you give people the benefit of the doubt and treat them like a valued friend?  Or are you so paranoid about getting taken advantage of that you turn into that customer that any sane company wants to fire?

Remember Grandma’s corollary to the Golden Rule: “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

  • I’ve often questioned the whole idea of “The customer’s always right.” That’s not true. It’s actually impossible to be true. If it were true, then me saying your service should be free should force you to give it to me free.

    I worked with a guy who was definitely that kind of customer. Bad customer experiences ALWAYS happened to him, and he never seemed to realize that the common part of every instance was HIM.

    bd
    @bdunc1

  • I’ve often questioned the whole idea of “The customer’s always right.” That’s not true. It’s actually impossible to be true. If it were true, then me saying your service should be free should force you to give it to me free.

    I worked with a guy who was definitely that kind of customer. Bad customer experiences ALWAYS happened to him, and he never seemed to realize that the common part of every instance was HIM.

    bd
    @bdunc1

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