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The Customer is Always Right

Stewpolicies Greg writes in and wants to know if that's really true. What if the customer is an amnesiac, a jerk, a difficult blowhard badmouther? What if the customer is the sort that wears his LL Bean khakis for a year and then sends them back?

In our ultracompetitive markets, how can you possibly have a chance in the face of enormous consumer power?

The answer might surprise you. It's the unwritten rule 3 on Stew Leonard's famous granite rock:

If the customer is wrong, they're not your customer any more.

In other words, if it's not worth making the customer right, fire her.

Successful organizations (and I include churches and political parties on the list) fire the 1% of their constituents that cause 95% of the pain.

Fire them?

Fire them. Politely decline to do business with them. Refer them to your arch competitors. Take them off the mailing list. Don't make promises you can't keep, don't be rude, just move on.

If you've got something worth paying for, you gain power when you refuse to offer it to every single person who is willing to pay you.

In 1988, my book packaging company had about six weeks worth of payroll in the bank. Yet we fired our biggest customer, someone who accounted for more than half our revenue. I still believe it was the right thing to do. We ended up happier and more successful, making up the business in a few months time.

If you treat a customer like he's wrong, he's going to leave, and probably tell a bunch of other people. Before you take that route, be direct, straightforward, polite and firm, and decline to sell to them.

So yes, the customer is always right. And if they're not, then one way or the other, they're not your customer any more.


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» Power of REFUSING Service from Cardboard. Damnit!
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Seth Godin, author of the book, Purple Cow, has an interesting post on his blog today. Its interesting because obviously Seth can read my thoughts, because I was going to write on this very topic, with much of the same wordage, ear... [Read More]

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This of course is referring to those customers that are just not worth the effort. Yes, sometimes we just have to do it, and thank Goodness it's a very rare occasion. And it's usually the customer who should ac... [Read More]

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Stew Leonard's is a massive dairy outfit and one of the things it is famous for is the rock you see to the right which contains two important rules: Rule 1: The customer is always right; and Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule 1.  Ac... [Read More]

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» Seth Godin Said to "Fire the Customer"... Would You? from BrainBasedBusiness
On April 28, Seth Godin looked at belligerent customers on the one hand and at Stew Leonards famous granite rock on the other … and wrote: … if it's not worth making the customer right, fire her.Support for the... [Read More]

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It has been a good but busy week (complain, complain) between work and home. One evening I returned a [Read More]

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