On the Nature of Professional Relationships

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
In spite of my occasional ranting about poor customer service, I really prefer to have cordial professional relationships with the organizations with whom I do business. That's one of the reasons I prefer small, locally owned businesses - I think it's much easier to develop and maintain relationships with local businesses than with some huge faceless organization whose agents don't give a good goddamn about your issues or your satisfaction.

In the past, when I've had issues with my local businesses, we've usually been able to resolve them to my satisfaction and continue the business relationship. That's usually because (in spite of my ranting), I can see that they're meeting me half-way, and trying to maintain long-term relationships with their customers. I, in turn, attempt to meet them half-way as well, and we can then continue a mutually beneficial relationship.

There are times, however, when it's just not worth it.

Sometimes that point occurs from a customer's perspective. Repeated poor service without a good faith effort to resolve issues and difficulties, unresponsiveness on the part of the customer contacts, poor quality products, general incompetence - all of these things can make a customer decide to cut and run.

And you know what? Sometimes it's the business who needs to cut and run. I know it's not popular or politically correct to say it, but sometimes certain customers are just not worth the trouble, and should be dropped like a hot rock.

When a customer is completely unwilling to meet you half-way, when the relationship only goes one way, when there's simply nothing a business can do to increase customer satisfaction because either the issue is personal or the cultural norm of the customer is such that no one could establish a trusting, mutually beneficial relationship with them - perhaps it's time to cut your losses.

Hell, I've been that customer. There are certain businesses that have pissed me off to the point that it really doesn't matter what the company does to woo me back - they'll never darken my doorstep again. In those cases, I think it's perfectly appropriate for the business in question to tell me never to darken their doorstep again, as well. I don't like it, but intellectually I understand the choice, and know that I myself might make the same choice in similar circumstances. And while I do have occasional fits of bitchiness, I don't act like that all the time, or with every vendor with whom I do business.

What I wonder is, do customers (or businesses that are customers) who do act like that all the time ever run out of vendors? Or do they just rotate from one vendor to another until they come to the top of the list again, hoping that the corporate memory of their bad behavior has faded into obscurity?

6 comments:

Juan Federico said...

I read an article about 'firing the customer' as a technique to improve morale and the bottom line in an organization. The downside is the fact that word will get around to other companies and leave yours looking, and smelling, like ass. I think you'll find the answer to your question if you look closely at what you do. I hate to say it but, there are only so many alternatives before a company cycles back through to Square One. it'S like "Hot Potato", "Fuck your Neighbor" or the ever popular BOHICA! In a 'shit happens' economy you can't expect more than temporary relief. So Janiece, Advil or Tylenol?

Janiece said...

I think I'd prefer choice C - to be independently wealthy.

Can I have choice C?

Juan Federico said...

you are hereby authorized to engage Choice "C" at a time convenient to your karma and/or your own choosing.

beatricemdfr said...

some huge faceless organization whose agents don't give a good goddamn about your issues or your satisfaction.

At least you live in a country where customer satisfaction is supposed to be the comppany's raison d'être. That's not the case here. You have to beg for service in France.

Janiece said...

Welcome, beatricemdfr.

You have a good point. Hence, choice "C."

kimby said...

I talk to THOSE customers on a daily basis, and we STILL have to cater to what they want and "need". With over 30 million customer, I would think we should be able to say..."no thank-you, YOUR services are no longer required". But I know that will never happen. I can think of 5 customers yesterday that I would have loved to "fire". Ahhh money, what we won't do for you.