Yes, its true! Note that there are other large institutions already noted by other commentators above that practice the same attitude. I worked at Wal-Mart, in the sporting goods department, while in school. One day a customer called in about a certain shotgun wanting to know the price. Within an hour he was standing in front of me ready to pay for the gun.
Only when I removed it from the cabinet did I discover the tag was twisted around another. In fact almost double. The manager agreed with me, but had to take it up the chain to the district manager. The district manager made the decision that I was at fault and the customer should have the gun at half the regular retail price.
I was demoted. Then, I left the company with no more respect for it. Great post. This is real fact. I always buy pampers nappies and have done for 4 years now but i was discusted when i bought a box as usual from my local morrisons store only to open the box to use one an find that most of the nappies were stuck together in the wrong shape, they were size 4 an a box of 88 and only 51 of them was i able to use.
A customer is NOT just someone who shows up to spend money at your place of business. Had a weird day a work today. We blame it on the full moon. Just one day a month, all of you choosing the same day. Not one penny spent, not even lunch or coffee or a pack of gum. Buy what you want, but pick it up from a place you know is friendly and respectful to you and to their employees.
Most likely a small, local business Remember, you are also customers, and hey! Having said that, most of our clients are lovely, intelligent, reasonable people. A very few, on the other hand, are obviously very unhappy campers. Miserable, selfish, illogical, mean, overbearing, and just plain wrong, wrong, wrong. Then I stick to my guns. And customer service is part of my job. In my 35 years of employment, I can only think of two bosses who actually backed up their front line people when the client clearly had unreasonable expectations.
BUT never where the customer could hear. Those two bosses treated us with respect. The issue would later be reviewed, discussed, and possible alternatives were offered. And there was no threat of firing. I think we would have died for those two guys. One was a paint company, so disposal of perfectly good product cost a fortune in expensive, specialized chemical waste treatment.
Another went bankrupt because of it. The ex-employees all found work elsewhere or created their own, and we get together once in a while to laugh at the stupidity of middle and upper management. We tell a lot of dumb boss jokes. We think of them with the same contempt and disrespect we were subjected to, when we think of them at all, then we have another beer and go home. It was a policy that the founder of Nordstroms came up with when he opened his first store in Seattle, WA……in In particular, Americans abuse people in the service industry, because they incorrectly believe they are above reproach.
Employees should come first. Very interesting posts. I was in the furniture business for almost 20 years, working for a total of 3 companies in that time. I have done everything from cleaning bathrooms to general manager. There was a lot of truth to that statement, even though it was usually said in jest. Rude and abusive customers were intentionaly given the very minimum service, if any at all. It allowed us the time, energy and MONEY to go above and beyond the call of duty for those that deserved it. I averaged about two calls a year to the police to remove unruly customers.
The ones remaining in the store were more than appreciative to see the abuser get the boot. Also, as a manager in an industry that has a tremendously high employee turnover rate, I lost a total of three employees during a ten year period. One was fired for cause. One left to become a full time Mom after the birth of her second child. The third moved out of state. Because we treated our employees the way we wanted to be treated…with respect and civility. We demanded the same from anyone wanting to do business with us.
We rarely delivered on Saturdays, but usually did before most holidays to do our best to get things delivered on time for the occasion. A winter storm had dumped three feet of snow overnight and was going to continue throughout Saturday. Before we opened, I called everyone on the delivery schedule to tell them we would do our best to make it if conditions allowed, but I could not make any promises.
One customer re-scheduled and the rest politely accepted the attempt at delivery, knowing we might not make it. The store became very busy throuout the day, despite the weather. Early deliveries were made okay, but as the day ensued, the conditions worsened. I offered my drivers the option to cancel. They declined and kept plugging away. I called each customer on the schedule with an update as the guys made their slow progress.
At 4pm, we had only two deliveries left when our truck became stranded in the snow. The first customer understood. Then I called the last customer. Mind you, my store was busy and I had to conduct these calls from the counter in full view of of our customers. The last customer waiting for delivery blew up at me. Fine, I always let someone blow off steam for three to five minutes. This went back and forth, on and on to the point that customers had stopped their shopping to listen in. After about ten minutes of this I put her on speakerphone so they could hear her tirade.
I had to go back to the handset when she began throwing the f-bomb every third or fourth word. I immediately told her our business relationship had ended. I would not allow her to talk to my employees the way she had talked to me. I was mailing her a refund check for her deposit and she would be arrested for trespassing if she came into our store. Thern I hung up. The store exploded into applause! For two weeks afterwards, the owner recieved calls and letters about how happy they were to see abusive and rude conduct NOT be rewarded. The end result made it all worthwhile. After they left, he again called me with another apology and his appreciation of my guys efforts and professionalism.
The only thing that would have been better is if that 2nd call had come from HER. Treat your employees like crap and they will get you back ten times over. Treat them like gold and theyll do handstands for you and your customers. Civility, like freedom must be defended. The way you handled the abusive customer was something any manager should learn and embrace.
Sometimes in this world you have to demand respect from people that have no idea what it is. I work for a direct selling company as a technical support analyst, in our company no matter what these consultants or customers are always right no matter how much disrespect they have for the people who are trying to help them. This has made me despise my job to the point where I am looking for other opportunities whether that means relocation or not.
I believe your power is in your people and agree with all that was said in this article. I believe in everything said in this article. I work for a direct selling company who believes that the customer or consultant is always right regardless of how badly they treat those of us trying to help them I am a technical support analyst.
This has made me hate my job so much I am looking for employment elsewhere even if it means relocation. A good service company should be able to deal with almost any customer. It sounds like you are advocating that the employees should be picking and choosing the customers…….. The old saying that the customer is always right is true…….. D, Gallo…you missed my point. We never failed the attempt at selling difficult customers.
Quite the contrary, we were very good at it. However, there is a BIG difference between a difficult customer and an abusive one. Just as much as there is a big difference between a difficult spouse and an abusive one. Our staff was able and eager to sell everyone, secure in the knowledge that the one or two people a year that became abusive would be shown the door. We just empowered the staff to come to us about situations that were detrimental to the staff and the other customers in the store. Would you tell your daughter to remain in an abusive relationship?
It should NOT be a requirement of employment to put up with that. And, quite frankly, the cutomers that would observe such situations were always quick to thank us for dealing with said behavior. The customer is NOT always right. The challenge is to have the courage to speak up when the customer is wrong. There is an exception to every rule. Learning how to deal with difficult customers, and how to diffuse and handle sometimes difficult situations that arise is important.
I have seen irate and sometimes irrational thinking customers brought around to become satisfied and long term customers. It is important to protect employees but, hopefully it is the exception……. I have seen many times when the customer service person helps to push a customer toward a negative encounter…. Alternatley a well trained and happy customer service person can and should steer the customer away from confrontational behavior…….
Gallo: Agreed. Successfully turning a difficult customer into a sale is the ultimate challenge in retail. Competing against other retailers is easy. Competing with perceived negatives is truly the crux of successful selling. Well said, D. I worked in customer service in a large telco, we had to obey the privacy laws of the country which prevent disclosure of information to anyone but the person themselves or certain government authorities the police basically.
Well the customer was right and I was formally reprimanded and told that another instance like that and I would be sacked. She was wonderful at trying to maintain both relationships. I try to treat people with respect, hear them out, address their issues if I can. But I am their equal, not their servant, regardless of how much of my income they provide.
I recognize customers have the RIGHT to try to get what they want, they just might not end up getting it from me. Who knows…. Provide details of how you would sell a product to a customer from start to finish??? Thank you SO much for this. Since the customer rest rooms are clearly marked and nearby, I thought the customer was confused and escorted her to the bathroom. She took exception, sent my boss a rambling, confused letter and threatened to go to the local paper to complain about her treatment.
I do believe the poor creature is senile since she mentioned in her letter that Jesus told her to take this up as a cause. I feel unsupported and could have told her there was nothing we could have done for this poor lady to make her feel better. I have been told absolutely and completely different versions of company policy by each and every different person who answered the phone at the same company. Part of the cost of whatever the product or service is decent to excellent customer service. That is not how consumers think.
I have done fast food, retail and bartending for many years. I have done childcare where you have to smile and say nice things to parents of horrid little monsters. When I grew weary of it, I moved on. She hung up on me. All was well. Last but not least, I also notice when I receive outstanding CS.
I call to commend good CS, I refer, I fill out the praise cards and I joke around with the really helpful and friendly ones. As someone who comes across tales of customer misconduct on a daily basis, I definitely agree with your article. Painting customers a single color and expecting to service all of them is foolish, both to the bottom line and for morale. Customers are obviously human, but so are the humans that run the businesses that service them. Fail to address the human factor on both sides of the coin , and the business itself will suffer. I cannot but smile at this article , the Great Chef who teach me the trade some 40 years ago once told a very deamnding customer with ever changing last minute decision and yes Madam we will also have yellow toilet paper…..
On the other hand thetre was never ever a compromise for quality ….. I absolutely love this post, and I agree with every word. I was in customer service for a while, and that damn phrase gave customers the license to aggravate me. Even my store manager barely controls any aspect of the business. They need to stop accepting disrespectfulness, and stop apologizing. Customers should get whatever they want if they complain enough. Thats what my two dads tought me.
I kicked over a movie stand because Walmart wouldnt give me a free movie for my pain and suffering of waiting in line so i pushed over the stand. They gave me the movie for 5 bucks. You might want to check out other retailers , if they respect their Employees they will respect you. You 2 dimwits are exactly why this thread exists.
HR Goes Agile
If I was waiting in line with you one thing I never do if I can help it I would have slapped your sorry ass all over that store for embarrassing yourself and other civilized humans. You deserved a spanking, one you probably never got as a child. Ignorant, you say??? Look in the mirror….. The only thing Wal-Mart is guilty of is providing just another choice for people and making some things affordable. Wal-Mart is not the place for that. People are limited only by themselves.
Maybe if you left Blockbuster video once in awhile you just might form some intelligent opinions of your own, spawned by your own thoughts, not spoon-fed by Hollywood and the media at large. Nobody is forced to work at Wal-Mart and there is a need for entry level jobs. When Wal-Mart went to staff the store, they needed employees.
What was not surprising is that they had 25, individuals for those jobs, most of the applicants coming from Chicago. Chicago wised up and Wal-Mart is now in Chicago, providing jobs that lead to something better in some cases, or at the very least, putting a few bucks in the pockets of people who might never hold any job. Thank you Deb , you just made my point. Defining entry level job at Walmart ….
I have never been in any blockbuster ever and will not miss them either now that they are closing their store …I do have a TV and rarely watch it because of the washed out news,instead I rely on the various news paper ansd publication I recieve , having worked and leaved in 4 differents countries speaking reading to business level 5 languages,ran plus Employees Business etc… by the way if you care to look closer the largest world holder of US bond and the like is China ,unfortunatly they have slowed down considerably and like the oil producing Country are now investing in the Euro , more than before we need better education and today we rank 14 among all western Country and dropping , India is catching up so fast it is not even funny.
Please for your own sake dropp Fox news and read the wall street journal at least it is in English. Joel, entry level can also be defined as any job that gets you working, creating experience that can be applied to a another and better job. While attending college,I worked in the book department of a very prestigious department store There was a book about the store titled, Give the Lady What She Wants-hint, hint and was paid minimum wage though the expectations for customer service and professionalism were high.
Previous to that, I had worked in a factory and as a waitress, both stepping stones to my job at the store. This led me to higher education and a profession as a librarian. I was the first college grad on both sides of my first generation American family and five of my eight siblings also went on to college and on to advanced degrees. If there had been a Wal-Mart in those days, I would have applied for work there. I respect any employer willing to give an uneducated and unsophisticated individual a chance since the rest is up to the individual.
Thanks Deb for further stating my point , Yes the Customer is aways right and yes give the Ldy what ever she want , hint pay up to the nose for it. There is a very Famous Judge who once said to a defendant in court as He was stating customer is always right , she went balistic and told Him if this was His defense He was a Sucker to which she slsammed the gavel and said pay up or else case closed.
Obviousely this Gentleman had listen to well to that stupid sentence. Shoul;d customer be always right the house I bought should have come with a valet a banquet room , my vehicle should have been a Bugatti and my Wife would have married the Pope ……. Joel, not everyone goes right into the job of their choice. If there were no such jobs, then tell me just who would clean up after all the ignorant pigs that exist in this country? Deb is right on the mark. I would have thrown your sorry butt out of my court, too, had it been me. I realize that your crap is usually accompanied by your money.
Repeat-offender problem customers should be sent without delay to your competition, so that their time can be wasted. My experience at those lowly jobs made me respect people regardless of economic status and made me a better person and, may I say, a wonderful employee. I can relate to the the welfare mother and to the VIP and my customers patrons appreciate me and have made me a success in my field. I never could have imagined that a peon like me could choose a career instead of having a job. I agree that there is a need for entry level jobs.
There is a need for pretty much every job in the world, including the most miserable of jobs. Someone has to do them. I still say that the majority of you are missing the point. If you are a CSR in any capacity whatsoever, it is your job to deal with ALL types of people in a courteous and professional manner. Even the jerks. Unless bodily injury is imminent, you should still remain professional and try to detach yourself from the situation; YOU are the one at work, not the person freaking out. There is pride in knowing you gave your best effort from the CEO down to the janitorial staff.
I have done it in 7 Countries each and every time upgrading without cutting the staff to the contrary which mean aside of english I am fluent in 7 languages and yes I make a typo here and there. Matt yes! Some major retailer do not even search shoplifter by fear of very costly law suit ….
I Dpdo not believe body search are legal in most States. It is you who is missing the point. The point is that it is not worth dealing with a rude customer. As the research plainly shows do your homework this type of customer is a detriment to the bottom line. As well no company or CSR has any obligation legally, morally, or as a result of company code or rule to suck it up and eat crap from a rude customer. Again Cassandra, do your homework and get a clue. Or perhaps you would rather not because it would blow your notion to bits that dealing with such idiots is a good thing.
And why do you feel this way? Probably because you yourself, as you intimated in some of your statements, are one of these self centered, ignorant, consumers who is so deluded that they feel they have the right to act like a child to get what they want. Again, do your homework and please behave yourself when you go shopping. The good thing is I know that if you do care to take the time and do the research you will find that the companies that have taken this approach have become hugely successful while the others that have chosen to kiss the ass of the rude aka the B-type customer as labeled in most of the marketing research customer are either out of business or barely afloat.
You might want to start with Bill Gates and Microsoft one of the most successful companies on the planet. Their mantra, one of them, by way of a paraphrase, is that the customer is almost always wrong. Have a nice day and if you are rude we are better off without you-really. Bravo, you get it!!!
See my last post above…. Let them waste their time. There will be those of you who correctly point out that a difficult customer could potentially be a loyal one; well, difficult is not necessarily the same as stupid, rude, or otherwise. Customer is always wrong! Abusive customer are not customer but people who need mental counseling , unless your trade is counseling you do not have to deal with it.
A bad customer can jeopardize the entire project. Software development is an extrememly complex and brittle process, and a customer who constantly demands new features will put the project at high risk. All you can do is be polite and informative to the customer, but if they are unreasonable, sometimes the best course of action is to fire the customer.
Courtney, it sounds like it is completely not worth it. Life is too short to put up with the type of abuse you have shared. There are plenty of good people to work for plenty of crummy ones too and you deserve better. Surely you can find something better, try an upscale department store. Usually you will find a more respectful class of person that goes there than you would in a convenience store. Ask yourself these questions; what is it people are buying in this convenience store?
Are there bars or metal grates on the windows? Probably you should look elsewhere. Do people loiter outside this convenience store? Not a good choice. Anyone with a brain knows that that would make business plummet. Neutrality is the only true answer… its really more of a play be ear instance now. And if the customer gets backing from management, then the customer goes home happy. I strive everyday to give top notch customer service. All of my staff is human, when we make a mistake we correct it and apologize.
However, when we do not and a customer is unreasonable I have given all my employees the right NOT to reward a nasty customers bad behavior by giving in to unnecessary demands. I work in the airport shuttle transportation industry and there have been times that I know the guest is totally wrong and wish I could tell them so. Most of the complaints that I deal with are from guest that just do not understand our system.
On the other hand, yes some of our drivers do not provide excellet customer service they are more interested in how much money they are making , and it shows in the complaints agaist them. They fail to see the bigger picture, that is 1upset guest tells 10 friends not to use us. Sometimes I wonder though, if the customer is a jerk, chances are he or she is a jerk with others, including friends, family and co-workers.
I just wanted to say that in my time working as an average, upper middle class grunt with no college degree I never had as good a job experience as I did when I was working for my local YMCA doing childcare. I felt like the Y really cared about me as a person, they had my back when I would have conflicts with parents, helped me do my job better and consistently tried to help me be happy and successful, even if it meant making a few parents a little miffed.
When I would get job offers for more money, or when I would become frustrated with that job I would remind myself that they supported and cared for me. I stayed with them for 3 years and was a real asset to the company. I might have lost them 10 customers over the years but I think I was worth it. I like to think they did too. I worked at a print shop where my manager would occasionally fire customers. In four years, I think it was 3 people. I would have crawled through broken glass for him.
It was one of the best employment experiences of my life. It is quite to the contrary NOT nonsense to question this misused jargon. Suffice it to say that a business transaction should not be grounds to prove correctness in terms of either the customer or the business owner, but an equitable exchange of goods and services. Disputes arise when one of the parties either expect too much or do not deliver. Now that of course is nonsense but it makes the point.
I have a lot of sympathy for people working in customer service. I find that usually works fine. To those clients who take their frustrations out on the kid behind the counter — your anger, frustration, confusion, cussedness over whatever the issue may be with the product or service of the company, manufacturer or service provider, or simply that you woke up on the wrong side if the bed. Regardless, the kid behind the counter or on the other end of the phone is often the person with the absolute least amount of power in the corporate structure, highly expendable, constantly fearful of dismissal, probably very poorly paid and most likely poorly trained.
Their lack of power to change the circumstances and correct the issue is often frustrating for them, too.
They may be well aware of the faults of the product but due to pressures you know nothing about, that employee is often behind a rock and a hard place. Wanting to do the right thing and not being able to do it, repeatedly, can wear down even the most honourable and upright employee.
Callousness, deliberate ignorance, malicious retaliation or plain indifference to your plight may be the only defence an employee has in order to save their sanity. Sometimes, yes, they are subjected to a rip-off. Blaming the messenger for your woes, especially to senior management, may get the kid fired for doing exactly what he or she has been repeatedly told to do. And guaranteed, the company is not going to change a multi million dollar machine, labelling process or overseas shipping contract just because you want the widget on the left instead of on the right.
And then guess who gets the blame? Guaranteed, it will be the kid behind the counter or on the other end of the phone, who gets a notation in their file, and is passed over for a raise. This keeps company costs down, right? My advice? When you want something, start as high up the chain of command as you possibly can.
Foot soldiers are just there a cannon fodder, they are the shield behind whom the generals hide. I work in a call center and showed this article to my boss. Customers are allowed to verbally abuse our employees and this is supposed to be a sign of great customer service. All the while, lower level managers are directed to keep turnover down. As a call center employee I can completely relate to all of the topics mentioned above. The pitiful thing is that the company I work for almost seems to have taken everything that this article says not to do, and did them.
That is the honest truth and I know first hand. There is an infamous customer of my company that honestly gets just about anything they want.. The reason for this is they were extremely abusive and kept demanding more and more. Which ultimately resulted in them receiving things that we would never do for a nice customer in a million years. Frankly in my opinion it is absolutely absurd, and I somehow inherited this customer and their outrageous requests from upper management because I am good at my job.
Thats a hell of a way to say thank you. I know that first hand and have always said that. Which I can admit makes me not want to go to work everyday, or be bugged by petty customer requests. I always thought this was ridiculous and nothing but a reward of abuse. There are plenty of ways to give good customer service without this kind of pandering.
All this does is increase prices for the honest customers. What refreshing reading! When one works for a company of employees, including the cleaning people, they begin to think of ways to make it better themselves than look toward the boss for resolve. I have refused to deal with one customer on the basis of bad behavior, bad manners, unreasonable demands, etc. I am getting too old 48 to deal with people who do not respect me as a person. The account was taken away from me and given to another employee.
Not my intent for her sake. My boss sheepishly informs the bad customer how his employees are afraid to talk to him. My boss said the right thing! I could go on and on…but love the articles here and will return for peace of mind knowing others feel the same. Everything will be made in China, managed in India, transported through Mexico into the USA by highways leased to multinational corporations and dumped onto a middle-class void Latino wasteland that used to be the heartland of America.
Are cuctomers always right? Great post! Nicely put. Do you really want your customer service team making this decision. And if you do, what if they make the wrong decision. I just blogged about ours at Billtrust. WOW, after coming home and being yelled and abused at by customers this was a very refreshing read. I wish I could print this and stick it in the tea room at work. BUT when a customer is not happy about one of these policies they call head office and they honour the customer, even though we are told to folllow these strict guidelines.
It makes us look stupid in the end because that customer got their own way. Why bloddy have these in the first place! We are so understaffed, therefore leaving customers waiting long periods. Apprently 3 people waiting per staff member is acceptable. How can this be right when in my job you can spend up to 45 mintues with one person! They really have no idea. Sadly my retail job of 5 years has made me hate people.
I am only there for my family- to support them. Every employee has the right to an abusive and bully-free workplace. We sign agreements at the beginning of the year that we will abide by these rules with each other. Why is it ok to allow customers to bully and abuse us in our place of work? A few years back I worked for a theater, selling tickets on the counter. I have always had a perfect customer service record and would never be rude to a customer.
So she wrote a letter. That was bad enough. What was worse was that a secretary at work took it upon herself to reply to this woman, apologizing for my bad behavior! Never asked me about the incident, nothing. I happened to find a copy of the letter in the trash can of a communal office and I filed a formal complaint against the secretary. Big deal.
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I quit not long after and they lost a good employee. Sorry to burst your little self esteem bubbles, but just how long do you think it would take to replace you? Getting customers to come into your store can be hard, getting folks to line up to push cash register buttons is not..
The sky is not green because a customer says so. However, the customer IS paying the bills including your wal mart clerk wages. And if you want to succeed in business, you will never forget this. And the horrible customers we get, let me tell you. A good example would be the time this customer and her son came to the restaurant. There was already a line and several people in front of her and right then and there, she demanded that she wanted to sit outside.
So my manager had no choice but to quickly attend to the others and then her. My friend, F, gave her the menus and usually we give customers time to decide on their choices. Then and there, she demanded that her order be taken. Okay, so F went to take her order. And then, out of the blue, she says that she wants her meals to be vegetarian. So F told her that and painstakingly explained to her the vegetarian items on the menu.
The customer then demands her food to be served immediately. Yes, as if the food can be magically made and sent. We had a full house that night so by all accounts, it would be impossible to get the food out immediately. The customer was a great example of an abusive customer. She complained about everything.
The last straw came when my friend, K, was clearing tables. Does that kind of customer deserve great service? Especially when they were rude from the beginning?
1: It makes employees unhappy
These customers are the reasons why I hate working sometimes. Do they think that we enjoy standing around with our feet and back aching? There are definitely more horror stories. Like F getting the bill thrown to her and such. I have worked in customer service for over 20 years. I have done customer service training and management. The customer wants overdraft fees reversed? The customer wants X service for free?
It would be nice if my company backed up their employees.
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We get abuse all day, from people whose biggest problem is that they refuse to keep track of their own purchases, or do not have the slightest ability in simple math, not to mention budgeting. We get sworn at, we get threatened, we get called names. Customer service is dead. Few people want customer service I would estimate less than five percent of our callers ; they want punching bags, scapegoats, and welcome mats to scuff their feet on. At furiouscusomters. You know, I find it amazing that a post from over two years ago stirs such strong emotion and thought that it is kept alive to this day.
Running Effective Meetings
Here I am, thinking that I would be digging up an old topic and I would never get to share my story ies. I am a young fellow, 26, who looks even younger, I work in sales with product that I know, love, geek out on, live, eat, breath, etc, etc. That said…. Every month or so, I get a fellow who reads up on these vast internet user groups and gains enough keywords and phrases to be dangerous. My boss, who will actively tell the customer that he, my boss, knows very little about whatever it is that product pertains to, saying that I am one of the most knowledgeable guys he has, which, in turn, makes the customer even madder.
I can see that they are afraid of me looking down at them or making fun of them, but really, I have to sell to grandma who knows NOTHING about what they are looking at. So for a story about firing a customer. I should go ahead and say that I work for a large music instrument retailer. We have the list of people that we share with each other that will always be trouble. As an assistant manager for the store, BL would always insist that I hold product for him, with no money down, for up to three or more months.
He claimed that others have done it for him before, and I politely told him that the reason why we did that one time was because of the bad travelers checks that he used. We held onto those pieces because he brought them back with the express intent on buying them upon paying off the bad debt.
He would have none of it. Then he would ask if I would sell it for X amount. Well, I suggested that he stop wasting his time here and go with his friend. After some more back and forth, he finally left. I thought I had rid of this fellow, but he came back a couple of weeks later looking to sell some gear that we could not buy in due to policies. I explained this to him, which he threw a big huff over saying that he talked to someone about us buying in said product. I asked whom he spoke to so I can make sure that everyone is on the same page and he refused.
Threw the gear into his car, drove off and called up the store. My boss told me not to deal with BL again. Fine by me. So after getting this over and over and over again with him returning everything, to discourage him from shopping with us, I made sure that everyone in the store knows who he is and that the tag price is the tagged price. One day, he asked one of the other assistant managers for the price of something. He asked if he could speak to a manager, which she politely told him that she is a manager.
And who made YOU manager? I over heard this and went around the store telling everyone not to acknowledge this fellow. He later apologized in a round about way, bought what it was, and left. JL came into the store a month after this and talked to my boss asking why he was getting the cold shoulder from everyone, and why no one was willing to deal, read discount, anything for him.
My boss at the time told him what all happened. His buddy hooked him up and he left the store again. I was angry, but as my boss explained it, we treat the rockstars like people and the people like rockstars. Makes sense. Not thirty minutes after he left the store, JL called my boss and talked about what kind of price he got. My boss told him that he cannot tell JL what anything cost and that he got a very good deal, which he did.
JL asked what if he brings it all back, then what, my boss said, go ahead, but we are done after that. CP is a whole another issue altogether. We have a fairly liberal return policy, and he would abuse it. Since his wife was returning everything, she claimed to have not heard of this fee, complain loudly, and eventually got the return due to us not wanting to put up with it. The last straw for this guy was when he sent in a friend to buy something, two light systems.
I was upset to no end, and not because it was getting returned, but because someone who could have used them and would have kept them missed out. I talked to my boss about this, the same one that delt with JL, and he said to print out a list of every transaction that CP has ever done with us and wait. The next time he comes in, suggest that they go else where due to us loosing money to them.
I did. They never kept anything with but the microphones since health code prevents us from taking back microphones. Presented the list to them, suggested they take their biz elsewhere and of course, she blew up. If this comes back to any store, we are done. The items never came back, and neither have they. Sorry for such a long post. One thing I learned early on in life is to treat others as you expect to be treated. On the same token, respect is earned not given. I always respect any waitress, waiter, sale person, salesclerk, bartender and anyone in the service industry.
They have it harder than most people out there job wise. Since I do this, I usually get my drinks faster than anyone else, comped desserts, quicker service times etc. I personally believe that everyone should work at a retail, waiting, CS job for at least 3 months to see what it is like. A few replies have mentioned some of these. You might have purchased something in the past, or even today, but if you have merchandise stuck under your jacket you better return it all pronto and get the h ck out of the store. It is always, always better to tick off a customer or even alienate them than to have to explain to the reporters why an 18 year old male was found dead on the property.
OR You work at a world-reknowned-five-star-resort and a customer requests to only pay the price they would for a taco bell value meal. With verbally and physically abusive customers they are damaging to a business beyond the fact they run off valuable employees. If someone is screaming obscenities do you really want to be in line with them? If someone is throwing merchandise at the employees, do you want to be within 10 yards of them? Bad customers are just not worth it because too often they make a store unpleasant for good customers.
As for wealthy clientele— no business should ever, ever be dependent on an overly narrow customer base. Customers when speaking of individuals and not firms are mortal. And for the comment on changing your production to meet the needs of the customers- this is not always plausible in terms of the costs to produce goods and services. If we have learned anything from the era of diversification it is that companies can go under for over-extending their capabilities. Companies who put their customers first, before their employees, are just plain wrong.
I work for a hotel, and had to throw a guest out due to illegal activities occuring in their rooms. The police came, found them engaged in said illegal activity, and took them out 1 of which in handcuffs. In my industry, not only is the customer right, they tell you how they are going to buy your products. We, thankfully, figured it out and raised prices and forced adherence to our terms, not theirs. The pain customers who really cost us more than we could make in profits fired themselves.
Just like everything else there is a balance. If I have a customer that is unreasonable and by unreasonable I mean absolutely wrong, and not only wrong — wrong, demanding, rude, and childish I will do everything I can to rectify the situation in order to keep my reputation in good standing. I do believe that a bad experience with a company is shared 10 times as much as a good experience. However, if by some stroke of oddity the customer returns for business later, I must assume that he or she was never really that upset in the first place and was simply being unreasonable in order to abuse our good customer service.
This puts them on very thin ice — one hiccup afterwards and we promptly discontinue service. In summary, I do agree with the author. If the manager or owner took the time to intervene with unruly customers the customer would never have an advantage over the employee. Some really good points of advice here. I work for a large not-for-profit association in their Member Services division.
I found this page because I just got off the phone with a guy who was definitely more interested in picking a fight with me than resolving his non issue. We were shortchanging him an entire month, dammit! If he had been NICE to us, we might have comped him a couple of months on his membership for the inconvenience…. I am a General manager for a fast food franchise. I wish they would support me once in a while. It is to easy for a customer to complaine and get someone into trouble. I feel like Do they even care about me? Absolutely love this post and article! I could not agree more. Once again, great post, could not have said it any better!
As a manager in a customer service based industry. Those are the same people who might have bullied you out of your lunch money during your school years. It is sad. I find it amazing that people come in to solicit a service or come in to an establishment for food and totally abuse the staff, complain, and are outright rude. Last time I checked this was my place of business and YOU were the quest.
We have overly empowered guests with complaints that will go all the up the ladder until they feel like they have won, once someone complains they do not stop until they get resolution or some sort of gift to keep them as a customer and further empowers them to know every time they throw a fit they will win. It ultimately hurts the industry overall by encourging people to be confrontationl assholes to get what they want.
America excels in this subhuman treatment of retail employees. Heres an update: Go to Eurpoe and try and pull the same crap, you will be politely or not so politely asked to get out and go bother someone else. Those people that are always complaining eventually find no on wants their business and tone down. In the interest of capitalism and greed we have lost our integrity. I believe in treating customers in a friendly and fair way. You are friendly — they throw the phone down.
You smile, they frown. You bend over bankwards for them, they kick you. Just to do your job. The employee and especially the company should never take this phrase literally or it will be their undoing. The customers are never right because they always find the wrong things even when you try to make evrything right for them. They are nevr satisfied with what they get, but these kind of customer are the ones that always come back to the same stores after they may have complain that they will never return because they were not satisfied the service they had.
I say this because I have been doing this for five years. So now they have to keep track of it to keep the freebies to a minimum. What a nightmare! Now ACT like one. This is not to be dismissive of the customer, but to realize that when they call in with a complaint it is often due to some fault of their own, most often abject laziness or general incompetence with regards to our industry.
Fire the bad employees so that most customers get excellent product and service and file bad customers so that our good employees can provide excellent products and services without wasting resources in a bottomless pit. His hotel quickly spotted this couple that was using the campaign to get free rooms right across the country.
They are simply not worth it. As a former Executive Chef , most of my former Employer , most still in business and when sold still profitable , they always , always analyzed the fine line between customer satisfaction and prostitution. Flatlely denying service to some arrogant millionaire or polititian,or newly superstars that wanted every employee at their feet. One in new york used to simply throw them in the street telling them they were an insult to his Customers , Establishement and Employees that extremely succesfull high priced restaurant ran some 30 years on cash basis only.
Guest wanted to swim in our outdoor pool way past operating hours like AM in the morning! Had another person on the line so tried to put them on hold and accidentally hung up on them. In short they were looking to create a problem so they would get their way despite their request being in violation of state ordnance regarding Certified operators of public pools and if they had gotten hurt the hotel would have been libel. Wow, that was some read! I pick and choose my customers.
Problem customers have distinctive earmarks that they cannot help but display during the sales process. You have to be able to deliver on your intent. Execution is the result of thousands of decisions made every day by employees acting according to the information they have and their own self-interest.
In efforts to improve performance, most organizations go right to structural measures because moving lines around the org chart seems the most obvious solution and the changes are visible and concrete. Such steps generally reap some short-term efficiencies quickly, but in so doing address only the symptoms of dysfunction, not its root causes. Several years later, companies usually end up in the same place they started. In fact, our research shows that actions having to do with decision rights and information are far more important—about twice as effective—as improvements made to the other two building blocks.
When a company fails to execute its strategy, the first thing managers often think to do is restructure. But our research shows that the fundamentals of good execution start with clarifying decision rights and making sure information flows where it needs to go. If you get those right, the correct structure and motivators often become obvious.
Take, for example, the case of a global consumer packaged-goods company that lurched down the reorganization path in the early s. We have altered identifying details in this and other cases that follow. Disappointed with company performance, senior management did what most companies were doing at that time: They restructured.
They eliminated some layers of management and broadened spans of control. The layers had crept back in, and spans of control had once again narrowed. In addressing only structure, management had attacked the visible symptoms of poor performance but not the underlying cause—how people made decisions and how they were held accountable.
This time, management looked beyond lines and boxes to the mechanics of how work got done. Instead of searching for ways to strip out costs, they focused on improving execution—and in the process discovered the true reasons for the performance shortfall. They did not intuitively understand which decisions were theirs to make. Moreover, the link between performance and rewards was weak. This was a company long on micromanaging and second-guessing, and short on accountability. Armed with this understanding, the company designed a new management model that established who was accountable for what and made the connection between performance and reward.
For instance, the norm at this company, not unusual in the industry, had been to promote people quickly, within 18 months to two years, before they had a chance to see their initiatives through. As a result, managers at every level kept doing their old jobs even after they had been promoted, peering over the shoulders of the direct reports who were now in charge of their projects and, all too frequently, taking over.
As a consequence, forecasting has become more accurate and reliable. These actions did yield a structure with fewer layers and greater spans of control, but that was a side effect, not the primary focus, of the changes. Our conclusions arise out of decades of practical application and intensive research. Nearly five years ago, we and our colleagues set out to gather empirical data to identify the actions that were most effective in enabling an organization to implement strategy. What particular ways of restructuring, motivating, improving information flows, and clarifying decision rights mattered the most?
We started by drawing up a list of 17 traits, each corresponding to one or more of the four building blocks we knew could enable effective execution—traits like the free flow of information across organizational boundaries or the degree to which senior leaders refrain from getting involved in operating decisions. With these factors in mind, we developed an online profiler that allows individuals to assess the execution capabilities of their organizations.
That allowed us to rank all 17 traits in order of their relative influence. From our survey research drawn from more than 26, people in 31 companies, we have distilled the traits that make organizations effective at implementing strategy. Here they are, in order of importance. Ranking the traits makes clear how important decision rights and information are to effective strategy execution. The first eight traits map directly to decision rights and information. Only three of the 17 traits relate to structure, and none of those ranks higher than 13th. Blurring of decision rights tends to occur as a company matures.
Young organizations are generally too busy getting things done to define roles and responsibilities clearly at the outset. And why should they? So for a time, things work out well enough. As the company grows, however, executives come and go, bringing in with them and taking away different expectations, and over time the approval process gets ever more convoluted and murky. One global consumer-durables company found this out the hard way.
It was so rife with people making competing and conflicting decisions that it was hard to find anyone below the CEO who felt truly accountable for profitability. The company was organized into 16 product divisions aggregated into three geographic groups—North America, Europe, and International. Decisions made by divisional and geographic leaders were routinely overridden by functional leaders.
Overhead costs began to mount as the divisions added staff to help them create bulletproof cases to challenge corporate decisions. Decisions stalled while divisions negotiated with functions, each layer weighing in with questions. Functional staffers in the divisions financial analysts, for example often deferred to their higher-ups in corporate rather than their division vice president, since functional leaders were responsible for rewards and promotions.
Only the CEO and his executive team had the discretion to resolve disputes. All of these symptoms fed on one another and collectively hampered execution—until a new CEO came in. The new chief executive chose to focus less on cost control and more on profitable growth by redefining the divisions to focus on consumers.
As part of the new organizational model, the CEO designated accountability for profits unambiguously to the divisions and also gave them the authority to draw on functional activities to support their goals as well as more control of the budget. For the most part, the functional leaders understood the market realities—and that change entailed some adjustments to the operating model of the business. Headquarters can serve a powerful function in identifying patterns and promulgating best practices throughout business segments and geographic regions.
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But it can play this coordinating role only if it has accurate and up-to-date market intelligence. Otherwise, it will tend to impose its own agenda and policies rather than defer to operations that are much closer to the customer. Consider the case of heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar. Decision rights were hoarded at the top by functional general offices located at headquarters in Peoria, Illinois, while much of the information needed to make those decisions resided in the field with sales managers.
We tested organizational effectiveness by having people fill out an online diagnostic, a tool comprising 19 questions 17 that describe organizational traits and two that describe outcomes. To determine which of the 17 traits in our profiler are most strongly associated with excellence in execution, we looked at 31 companies in our database for which we had responses from at least individual anonymously completed profiles, for a total of 26, responses.
Finally, we indexed the result to a point scale. Pricing, for example, was based on cost and determined not by market realities but by the pricing general office in Peoria. In , the company posted the first annual loss in its almostyear history. By the end of , Caterpillar had lost a billion dollars. Ironically, the way to ensure that the right information flowed to headquarters was to make sure the right decisions were made much further down the organization.
By delegating operational responsibility to the people closer to the action, top executives were free to focus on more global strategic issues. The functional general offices that had been all-powerful ceased to exist, literally overnight. Their talent and expertise, including engineering, pricing, and manufacturing, were parceled out to the new business units, which could now design their own products, develop their own manufacturing processes and schedules, and set their own prices. The move dramatically decentralized decision rights, giving the units control over market decisions.
With this accurate, up-to-date, and directly comparable information, senior decision makers at headquarters could make smart strategic choices and trade-offs rather than use outdated sales data to make ineffective, tactical marketing decisions. Within 18 months, the company was working in the new model. And that transition was very quick because it was decisive and it was complete; it was thorough; it was universal, worldwide, all at one time.
Whether someone is second-guessing depends on your vantage point. Recently, we worked with a global charitable organization dedicated to alleviating poverty. It had a problem others might envy: It was suffering from the strain brought on by a rapid growth in donations and a corresponding increase in the depth and breadth of its program offerings. As you might expect, this nonprofit was populated with people on a mission who took intense personal ownership of projects. It did not reward the delegation of even the most mundane administrative tasks.
Country-level managers, for example, would personally oversee copier repairs. Second-guessing was an art form. When there was doubt over who was empowered to make a decision, the default was often to have a series of meetings in which no decision was reached. When decisions were finally made, they had generally been vetted by so many parties that no one person could be held accountable.
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An effort to expedite decision-making through restructuring—by collocating key leaders with subject-matter experts in newly established central and regional centers of excellence—became instead another logjam. Second-guessing was an art form: When decisions were finally made, they had generally been vetted by so many parties that no one person could be held accountable. We worked with them to design a decision-making map, a tool to help identify where different types of decisions should be taken, and with it they clarified and enhanced decision rights at all levels of management.
All managers were then actively encouraged to delegate standard operational tasks. Once people had a clear idea of what decisions they should and should not be making, holding them accountable for decisions felt fair. When information does not flow horizontally across different parts of the company, units behave like silos, forfeiting economies of scale and the transfer of best practices. Since scores for even the strong companies are pretty low, though, this is an issue that most companies can work on. A cautionary tale comes from a business-to-business company whose customer and product teams failed to collaborate in serving a key segment: large, cross-product customers.
To manage relationships with important clients, the company had established a customer-focused marketing group, which developed customer outreach programs, innovative pricing models, and tailored promotions and discounts. But this group issued no clear and consistent reports of its initiatives and progress to the product units and had difficulty securing time with the regular cross-unit management to discuss key performance issues.
So the units were not aware, and had little faith, that this new division was making constructive inroads into a key customer segment. But as the market became more competitive, customers began to view the firm as unreliable and, generally, as a difficult supplier, and they became increasingly reluctant to enter into favorable relationships.
The customer division became responsible for issuing regular reports to the product units showing performance against targets, by product and geographic region, and for supplying a supporting root-cause analysis. A standing performance-management meeting was placed on the schedule every quarter, creating a forum for exchanging information face-to-face and discussing outstanding issues. These moves bred the broader organizational trust required for collaboration. Rational decisions are necessarily bounded by the information available to employees. They can hardly be faulted, even if their decision is—in the light of full information—wrong.
We saw this unhealthy dynamic play out at a large, diversified financial-services client, which had been built through a series of successful mergers of small regional banks. In combining operations, managers had chosen to separate front-office bankers who sold loans from back-office support groups who did risk assessments, placing each in a different reporting relationship and, in many cases, in different locations.
Unfortunately, they failed to institute the necessary information and motivation links to ensure smooth operations. As a result, each pursued different, and often competing, goals. For example, salespeople would routinely enter into highly customized one-off deals with clients that cost the company more than they made in revenues.
Sales did not have a clear understanding of the cost and complexity implications of these transactions. Without sufficient information, sales staff believed that the back-end people were sabotaging their deals, while the support groups considered the front-end people to be cowboys. They standardized the end-to-end processes used in the majority of deals and allowed for customization only in select circumstances. For these customized deals, they established clear back-office processes and analytical support tools to arm salespeople with accurate information on the cost implications of the proposed transactions.
At the same time, they rolled out common reporting standards and tools for both the front- and back-office operations to ensure that each group had access to the same data and metrics when making decisions. The four building blocks that managers can use to improve strategy execution—decision rights, information, structure, and motivators—are inextricably linked. Unclear decision rights not only paralyze decision making but also impede information flow, divorce performance from rewards, and prompt work-arounds that subvert formal reporting lines.
Blocking information results in poor decisions, limited career development, and a reinforcement of structural silos. So what to do about it? Since each organization is different and faces a unique set of internal and external variables, there is no universal answer to that question. The first step is to identify the sources of the problem. The more people in the organization who take the survey, the better.
The options listed represent only a sampling of the dozens of choices managers might make. All of these actions are geared toward strengthening one or more of the 17 traits.