That rather startling announcement captured the
attention of everyone in our Take The Bully By The Horns seminar.
“Why was that?” asked one curious participant.
individual took up a disproportionate amount of our time. He was a
grump with a lot of free time and money on his hands, and he decided
our office was his favorite place to hang out. He would come in 3-4
times a week and boss our staff around, ordering them to make minor
buys and sells, and then changing his mind minutes later.”
“If one of his stocks performed badly, he would
blame us even though he had made the changes against our advice! We
dreaded him walking in the door, because we knew we wouldn’t be able
to get any of our other work done.”
“I tried several times to diplomatically let him
know that we were not his personal servants, but he brushed me off.
I finally gave him an ultimatum and told him he needed to start
treating us with respect and let us handle our other
responsibilities. He got angry and told me in no uncertain terms
that ‘We worked for him, and he would do what he darn well
“That was it,” Pat pronounced. “I told him we had
done our best, but that this was no longer a win-win situation. I
told him we would be closing his account with us and he was welcome
to find another investment counselor who could satisfy his needs.
You can’t believe how relieved we are not to have to deal with his
This broker’s experience is in line with the “It’s
about time!” response I’ve received from professionals across the
country to the epiphany that, “The customer is NOT always right.”
“The customer is always right" philosophy has been
an oft-repeated management mantra for years. The mandate for
service-providers is to keep customers satisfied, even when that
means rewarding rule-breakers who purposely violate the laws of
fairness and common decency.
Squeaky wheels not only get the grease, they often
get the whole ball of wax.
I say, “Let’s rethink this.” Our strength taken to
an extreme becomes our weakness. Compassion is a lovely quality–
however, taken to an extreme, it means we put everyone else first
and ourselves last. A policy of doing our best to please customers
is wise. Doing our best to please customers who repeatedly mistreat
our employees is not.
The smart thing is to give our staff the authority
to determine when it is no longer in the company’s best interests to
appease a customer. If you have consistently tried to resolve a
complaint and the customer refuses to meet you half-way -- and if
you perceive that continued efforts to solve this situation won't
succeed – then it is cost-and-time effective to cut your losses by
saying, “This decision is final” so you can turn your attention to
customers you can help.
This rather bold suggestion is excerpted from
Take The Bully By The Horns: Stop Unethical, Uncooperative,
Unpleasant People from Running and Ruining Your Life.
Chapter 21 suggests we ask ourselves, "Is this
Deja Moo? Have I heard this bull before?” If a bully client has a
history of verbally abusing our staff and/or shows no willingness to
cooperate, we might be better off ending that relationship so we can
concentrate on customers who honor our policies and choose to
respond in kind.
Yes, this is stated simplistically, and yes, there
are caveats. However, the point of this article is simply to suggest
that it’s in your best interests to reassess your habitual ways of
handling “troublemakers.” As pundit Ed Howe said, “Instead of loving
your enemies, treat your friends a little better.”