Are You a Good Customer?

I’ve been writing a lot about customer experience lately. I’m a huge advocate for companies to be customer-focused. At the same time, something has come to my attention that I wanted to share.

My daughters are both in service businesses, working in restaurants and other firms the deal with the general public. They’ve shared with me recently that kind of behavior that they see on the job. They’re both surprised by the way some people behave towards servers, hostesses and others who’s job is to help customers have a good experience.

I listen to these concerns with empathy knowing that it’s not easy to do what they do. I don’t think much beyond that until I was having lunch today with a client.

He is also in a service business, as the CEO of the firm doing remodeling projects for high-end homes. We’ve done a lot of work together over the past few years helping his company can point it’s target market, identify the ideal customers, and create a business that delivers a consistently exceptional experience.

He asked me if I’d noticed any shifts in buyer behavior lately. He was afraid that it was just him seeing increasingly rude or inconsiderate behavior. His feeling was that there’s an increasing expectation among buyers that everything will be done perfectly right now. The expectation of immediacy and the need to be catered to was disconcerting to him.
Maybe it’s just the world we live in, he said. Is everybody stressed out? Where did the sense of entitlement come from?

My clients concern wasn’t about the specific age group or demographic, he works with all kinds of customers and seeing a trend across the board. Some customers are reasonable and considerate, others seem to have unrealistic expectations. And that brings me to the question, are you a good customer?
When we talk about customer experience, we’re talking about a relationship. Like any good relationship requires give and take. Even the most customer focused organization can’t please customers if they decide to be unpleasable. It helps when you target the right buyers and reduce any potential friction making interactions a seamless as possible.
But when you’ve done everything that you can do you and your customer still aren’t happy, that raises the question: is it time to break up?
Sometimes firing a customer is the right thing to do. As someone who is first retail job was with Sears, where the customer is always right, it took me a long time to get to a place where I could accept that reality.
The truth is, not all customers are right for every business. Some are poor fit because the service offerings don’t align with their needs. Others are just too difficult or too inconsiderate to be served.
As a business owner it’s up to you to draw the line about who fits your model, and do we need to exclude. On the flipside, when you’re out there in the world, are you exhibiting the qualities that make a good customer? Are you considerate, kind, and appreciative of what the employees of other businesses do for you? Do you set a positive example?

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