Workplace Wisdom

What Your Customer Can’t (and Shouldn’t Have to) Do For You

It is not your customer’s job to…

…make you feel good or comfortable or safe,
…know the constraints you labor under,
…understand what you wish they would say or do,
…figure out your business model,
…give you feedback if you’re not paying attention, or
…praise you.

Your customer may not always be right, but your customer is always your customer, and therefore, should be cherished.

You should be able to show kindness, compassion, care, and concern for your customer just as you do (I hope) for a loved one — even for an intimate who has behaved badly. And just as there are occasionally close friends and even family members from whom we grow apart and from whom we must separate and take our leave, there are, sadly, occasionally customers with whom we need to cease doing business.

You are in charge. Your customer is not. That’s why it’s often appropriate to defer to your customer — because you can always decide not to give in. So if your customer ever is in charge — that is, defining the terms of the relationship outright, as opposed to expressing wants and needs for you to satisfy — then you’ve probably let the relationship get out of hand in some way.

It is your job to preserve the viability of your business — not your customer’s responsibility.

It is your job to explain the terms and conditions of your company’s service or product to your customer, and to help your customer function within them.

This rant was triggered by recent visits to a variety of clients. At each establishment, there were some employees who seemed resentful, confused, or completely disempowered when customers did not already know how to order, use, or otherwise take advantage of the products or services available for purchase.

This tells me that we’re not hiring the right folks, not training them effectively, and/or not modeling the relationship strategically, with foresight. Or perhaps we’ve let the employer/employee relationship run off the rails as well?

Onward and upward,

LK

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4 thoughts on “What Your Customer Can’t (and Shouldn’t Have to) Do For You”

  1. Spot on post, Liz. Great job. I spent five years in outside sales and learned all of these points the hard way! Wish I would have read this post 8 years ago!! 🙂

    Micah
    @GroupThrive

    • Thanks, Micah. These things seem obvious once you know them, but it’s amazing how many people give customers more jobs (and therefore, more power) than they should have.

  2. I tried substituting the word ‘co-worker’ for ‘customer’ and the piece still works quite well. Thanks, Liz!

    • It’s funny how all our relationships have similar underpinnings, isn’t it? Thanks, David, for writing. I know you know that we’re all responsible for ourselves!

 

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