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posted by martyb on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the the-pecking-order-stops-here dept.

Modern Machine Shop ran an interesting piece recently under the title, "Why Is It Okay to Fire a Customer?" Here are a few clippings for your interest:

We work overtime to meet the demands of our customers and rightly so. Our success depends on our reputation and repeat business. So much so that going the extra mile in communication and delivery has effectively become the new baseline for good customer service for successful businesses.

This is all well and good. I'm proud of our industry's efforts to elevate the standard through innovation and technology, and it's working. Even so, elevated standards mean bigger risks for customers and suppliers alike, making the century-old saying of "the customer is always right" somewhat of an overstatement. What was once sealed with a handshake is now enforced by contracts and documents written to protect all involved parties.

[...] In my 26 years of leading Pioneer Service [CNC machine shop], I've had the unfortunate but necessary task of firing exactly two customers. The common thread between them was a deal-breaking level of disrespect. They directed accusatory and demeaning language to multiple members of my team, and they were unapologetic repeat offenders. Firing them [customers] was considered only after taking every reasonable measure (and perhaps a few less reasonable ones) to make them happy.

Thankfully, this is an extreme minority of customers. I will never enjoy firing anyone, employee or customer, but I have yet to regret standing up for a member of my team.

[...] Just before firing one of the two offending customers, I approached the employee who had been that customer's favorite target. I'll call him Dave. My goal was simply to reassure Dave that he'd done nothing wrong. Dave was shocked, didn't want me to fire the customer and tried to dismiss the rude behavior. My explanation to him was the same phrase I say to all of my employees: "You've got my back; I've got your back.

Anyone work for a boss/owner like this?


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Booga1 on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:47AM (10 children)

    by Booga1 (6333) on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:47AM (#958447)

    At one of my previous phone tech jobs our bosses had our backs. They were mostly non-technical and any escalations to supervisors were pure customer appeasment. If you wanted your problem solved, you needed to be put back on the phone with a tech agent.

    As for "firing" a customer I can think of at least one case of that. The customer had called in for tech support over 75 times in the previous month. Most of the complaints they had were beyond ridiculous and unsolvable since there was no grounding in reality. He was costing more in tech support calls than he brought in every month so it wasn't much of a stretch to let him out of his contract. The "customer is always right" except when they aren't, and they cost you money and reputation. Some customers aren't worth keeping.

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  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @12:40PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @12:40PM (#958477)

    One of my bosses was dealing with a cuntstomer in San Diego's East County and finally had enough. He told the customer to take interstate 8 west all the way to the end, get out of the car and walk 200 feet to the nearest beach, and pick up a handful of sand and pack it up his ass. Another boss that had to write a reason on an invoice for a refund wrote "Customer is an asshole".

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Saturday February 15 2020, @01:59PM (1 child)

    I occasionally am a boss like that. Unless you've got a very small customer pool, losing a good employee is a lot tougher on the business than losing a bad customer.

    They have to be a good employee though. An average employee that the job is just a job to and who doesn't give a shit if the company does well or not? I generally fire them (Not for cause. They're welcome to draw unemployment.) as soon as I can find someone who looks like they will be a good employee, whether they're a source of friction with a customer or not.

    Good employees can quite literally be worth their weight in gold but average ones are only worth the time it takes to find better.

    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    • (Score: 2) by Booga1 on Saturday February 15 2020, @02:11PM

      by Booga1 (6333) on Saturday February 15 2020, @02:11PM (#958500)

      Understandable, and a balance can be hard to find in some situations. My position was "tier 3" tech support, end of the line. We were all the best troubleshooters you could get, so it was incredibly rare that an employee was fired.
      When we did fire someone it was almost always because the employee lost their cool and ended up being rude to the customer.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @05:05PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @05:05PM (#958544)

    I work for an elite university. With the students paying around $100k/year, the customer is *quite* right. A student complains about their grade or cheating sanction, and management will try to rectify things with the professor. Even having tenure does not seem to be much protection, if a student is anguished by something a professor said and mobilizes half the student body via Facebook, chances are the university won't want the trouble and could remove the professor.

    As for how good the employee has to be to avoid getting fired, an established CS prof bringing in millions of research dollars is probably safer in his position than a history professor. Money talks.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:04PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @07:04PM (#958579)

      Operation Varsity Blues?

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @09:00PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15 2020, @09:00PM (#958603)

      There is a professor I know who told a student that was high and disrupting the class to leave. The professor had to apologize to the student publicly after the student called daddy and daddy threatened to pull his million dollar yearly donation to the school.

      • (Score: 2) by Booga1 on Sunday February 16 2020, @04:24AM

        by Booga1 (6333) on Sunday February 16 2020, @04:24AM (#958692)

        Where's my "Sad, but informative" mod.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday February 16 2020, @03:04AM (1 child)

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday February 16 2020, @03:04AM (#958670) Homepage

      If a university get a reputation for actually calling out all of their scum Arab and Chink foreign students on their cheating, those fuckers will take their lucrative foreign student tuition money elsewhere. The losers are the Americans who have to carry the weight of those scum in mandatory "groupwork."

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 16 2020, @11:38PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 16 2020, @11:38PM (#958938)

        Someone didn't get laid trying to impress the cute asian!