September 25, 2007

The customer's wrong...

I have worked in the computer service and retail sectors in general sine I have been legally able to work. And since then there are many things that I have learned, but the one thing that I am reminded of daily is that THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT!

Customers seem to have this sense of entitlement, like the world owes them something. I tell this to my boss all the time. He is quiet possibly one of the worst customers I can imagine having (if he was one of my customers). He thinks the world should bend over for our company, defeat the laws of physics of necessary. Whatever it takes to get him what he wants. I can't stand it.

Recently we have been in fights with a company who provides a critical service to our company. They designed and host the software we use to manage our clients, help manage our payroll, bill the agencies we do work for, etc. It's basically the heart of our company. For this we pay an enormous sum. (just over a million dollars in the last 5 years) He thinks because of this, the company should be bending over and meet every one of our demands with a smile and do it quick.
Now under normal circumstances, yea they should be happy to take more of our money to make changes, but what he doesnt realize is that at some point, its just not worth the trouble anymore. We make demands of this company to the point where their primary program (one of the 3 people who started the company) is working full time on our stuff, in addition to having 2-3 other programmers trying to work out the smaller issues we have and fixes/changes we need. Yet he thinks he is a good customer. WRONG!

A good customer in the eyes of a service provider is one who pays their monthly fee, uses the product and sits quietly. Not one who demands you makes changes to your product on the fly on a weekly basis. Yes, change is necessary, but if you say "change function x" then in a week say "ok we changed are mind change it back" then in 2 days say "why did you change function x!!!!" do this 10 - 15 a month and have function x be a large function in the software, it becomes an issue. I feel bad for this company, and I've told my boss on every occasion that he is lucky they are nicer than I am, because I would dump us as a customer.

I couldn't do anything but smile after the last few meetings he has had with them. in the first one of the owners straight up told my boss "we don't need your business anymore" (we essentially funded their start up, but now we are one of their smaller clients) and in the most recent, my boss decided it would be fun to invite over the second owner and their lead programmer and surprise them with a meeting with our 2 deputy CEOs as well as our Privacy officer (arguably 3 of the top 4 people in the agency) but then it back fired because they came out swinging and telling these people just what a big problem they are. and then told them, unless they signed a new contract with different stipulations (we are out of contract right now, which is a huge liability for us but the 'management' some how thinks we don't need them or their contract) they would no longer do any new work for us with the exception of "emergency" and bug fixes. It was great. Of course I had to hide my absolute glee during the meeting because I am working for the company that just got pounded on, but I can be happy for the service provider. It's about time a bad customer got put in their place.

I also work in the retail sector. And just today, a customer calls all bent out of shape because they bought office 2007, they tried to install it an it doesn't work. She wants a refund. Hell no. We don't refund/exchange opened software. she starts whining that no one told her it wouldn't work. We asked who her sales person was, she said she didn't have one, she just went to the register. Said sorry but if she didn't ask someone then it was her fault. In addition the requirements are printed on the side of the box. She throws a fit. Granted Id be pissed to if I just laid out $400 for a product I cant use, but still its her fault. This person is a trouble customer all around, she does this frequently, and in the past our managers have bent for her (their mistake) this time they said screw it. they refunded her money, told her keep the product and not come back to the store again. she CALLS back, just to complain about the store, and says she will never shop there again. The manager says "yes ma'am, I know you wont be, because if you try we will have you escorted out by the police"

As a customer you are entitled to a few things.

  1. To get the service/product you paid for. You by a computer, you get what is advertised. You are not entitled to anything more from the store. You need help setting it up, that is an extra service that you can either pay us for or call the maker of the computer for help.
  2. To be treated the same way you are treating the sales person. You come out acting like a bitch, demanding a bunch of stuff. Then expect to be treated like a bitch.
  3. To not be lied to. Even if you are a bitch, you should not be lied to. Now you might get more of the truth if you are nice, but it is never OK for a sales person to lie to you.
You are not entitled to friendly service. It sucks, but its true. Good customer service it what companies should do to keep their customers happy, and to make them look better against their competitors. But it is not an entitlement. You may think the store is only there because you are so generous to buy from them, thats wrong. Grocery stores are around because we are too lazy to go hunting and we decide our time is better spent else ware. Computer stores are around because most people are too stupid to build a computer (not that its hard, its just people are that stupid) the store being there is a CONVENIENCE to YOU. and the store is there to make money, not friends.

You are not entitled to get a bunch of free services (like tech support) Do not call me and say "I just spent $400 for a top of the line computer!!! and you wont help me burn a CD?!?" first off fuck you. You spent $400 on the cheapest computer you could find, then you declined to purchase the service that would have gotten us to help you with these things. Nothing in life is free, deal with it. Now you don't get the help.

In addition, unless the amount you just spent is significant, and you have a history of spending a significant amount, do not start your conversation with "I just spent xxx". No 500 is not a significant amount in our industry. Money talks, so unless you are that business account that comes in once a month and drops 4-5k on toner alone, I wont be jumping through hoops for you if you are being an ass. Be nice, and sure, Ill help you the best I can if you spend $10 or $10,000.

So I'm sorry for all the customer who for some reason think "the customer is always right". I want to slap the person who made that bullshit up. The fact is the customer is almost never right. But depending on the way they are acting, we might let them think they are right and help them out. Or if they know they are wrong we will let them slide, because hey, mistakes happen.

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