On April 28, Seth Godin looked at belligerent customers on the one hand and at Stew Leonard’s famous granite rock on the other … and wrote: “… if it's not worth making the customer right, fire her.”
Support for the firing… came in Seth’s words: “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.”
I liked Seth’s take on “successful organizations” …which includes churches and political parties… and I was surprised to learn that they…churches included… “fire the 1% of their constituents that cause 95% of the pain.”
My own interest though was more a matter of what we do to our brains and theirs... when we fire or don’t fire them…. Seth’s advice?
“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,” That worked to a point…. but I wanted more to give me the guts it takes to fire anybody…. So I wrote my way into Seth’s story … held up the parts to a rainbow… and looked at the problem from another angle – from the human brain’s perspective.
To show what I mean… I’ll use Seth’s 1988 encounter, when his “book packaging company had about six weeks worth of payroll in the bank.” Yet Seth fired his biggest customer, “someone who accounted for more than half our revenue.” He concluded that it had to be the right thing to do since in Seth’s word…”We ended up happier and more successful, making up the business in a few months time.”
If Seth had not fired this customer… by default he’d have:
-- invited constant mental invasion from the stress hormone, cortisol that increases through angry or rude customers…
-- robbed his own and his employees’ evening life from the brain’s perspective
-- fueled negative people to burn out his own brain and others’
-- made money more central than mental acumen needed to grow finances over time
-- started his days in frustration and without his brain in mind…
Guess you see why I’d agree to fire that customer… and then try to fire my brain back to building the business… Do you agree with Seth’s conclusion, that… “… yes, the customer is always right. And if they're not, then one way or the other, they're not your customer any more...?” What’s your experience…?
Oh yes… I’d also try to find the courage Seth found to fire the guy in the first place while I try to… “stay polite but firm … and move on” …only I’d add without fear…. Thanks for the inspiration to choose the path of courage rather than fear on this one, Seth….
It was fun to track your courage and see that you called this one from more than the granite rock … you showed us the brain’s best option … so thanks for that too…