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05/17/2005: "I Predict a Riot"

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when i started this blog, it was mostly rants and daily musings, with occasional mixings of the happenings from la vida agujerear. then came layoffs, other jobs, and an eventual retreat from the corporate world (for some reason i wanted to type 'corporeal world' and i think as a freudian slip, it still works.) for rougly the past 18 months or so i have slaved away under the auspicious luck of working for and with my wife, not having to endure any bullshiet mission statements, petty office political battles, craptacular technology decisions, etc.; in that vein, i am living in The Promised Land and i don't mean to pee on the burning bush...but folks, i am sure if you are old enough to read this blog, you are old enough to know, nothing is perfect.

more after the jump!

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see, in trading my health insurance, paid vacations, a steady paycheck, reasonably set hours, i received the pleasure of having to deal with customers. yes, public customers (to differentiate between the business-speak of internal customers, such as how most IT departments view the development staff, i.e. those fscking customers who want the new server up by 5PM and it takes 3 hours to get the framework installed; damn them! but i digress....)

i don't want to sound too Howard Hughesian, but i really don't like people. most people. i like you guys, but being in my new position, i deal with the public, as customers or potential customers on a daily basis. it's not pretty.

here's what i see as the problem: most people in the U.S. have been told, raised and indoctrinated with the rule that, "The Customer is Always Right!" i have bad news for you: the customer is rarely right. the customer is often a louse, out to lie, cheat and steal to basically get any personal advantage where they derive added benefit, usually at the cost of the business. it's true. you do. add to this Problem of Rightness the wealth of businesses that embrace the mantra "The Customer is Always Right," even when it obviously doesn't serve the business' best needs (please cue up Fast Times at Ridgemont High and watch Brad Hamilton get canned over an argument with an obvious asshole customer.) yes, i am pointing my finger towards you corporate America and your horde of big box retailers, restaurants, and service stores; places run by managers who graduated from high school and weren't good enough to play college football, so they've have taken up residence and rule with ignorance and impunity. these tools micro-manage their employees actions, suck-up to the customer no matter the details and basically enable the Problem of Rightness to continue.

well, since i don't have a boss and i can't be fired, i don't kowtow to the Problem of Rightness. come into our business and act a fool and you are most assuredly going to get told what's what. i guarantee it.

case and point: we are a service business. we derive income from providing services to our customers, either in the fashion of grooming, boarding, or daycare. because we are a service company, we are limited in the amount of work we can perform during any business day. in grooming, for example, we work by appointment only. we are very fortunate to have two truly skilled groomers who are hands-down two of the best groomers in the Houston area. that fact allows us to maintain a busy, constant schedule and we rarely have space for walk-in customers. in that regard, life is grand. the downside to this is that in requiring appointments, we also need our customers to show up for their appointments. most do, usually on time, but occasionally we have no-shows. not too big a deal, i usually can account for them, since it is often new customers who don't show, and you develop a spidey-sense in booking appointments that allows you to guess if a new customer is coming or not. but sometimes you get "regular" customers who no-show. sometimes it is an honest mistake, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, etc. since we are a pen & paper run business, for roughly the first 12 months we weren't tracking when our regular customers stood us up, but for the last 6 months i have been annotating their files when it happens. it just so happens that we have a few regular customers who are habitual no-showers. recently i told my wife that when someone no-shows, the next time they make an appointment they are required to pay a deposit equal to their previous grooming cost. last week we had a customer call who had stood up her last two grooming appointments; since those times we instituted this deposit policy and i let the customer know that we required her to pay a deposit b/c of her past oversights. as you can expect from the tone of this tale, she was indignant! she asked me where the policy was posted and when it was instituted. sorry, but i don't think i need to post a policy that if you schedule an appointment, you show up. common-fscking-sense would tell you that we earn our money by serving customers and if you reserve a spot and then don't show, you are costing me money - money i foolishly use to pay my employees as well as for such trivial items as food and heat. anyway, long story short, she paid the deposit and showed up, but it goes to highlight my theory: customers suck!

(and by the way, this is just a small example of the daily bullshiet we put up with in our service business. we encounter cheap-ass, moron, scammers every day. every damn day. many are worse than above. thankfully, some are not as extreme.)

i've been toying with the idea of telling customers, like the one above, that we are going to move to the airline model for appointments: you make your reservation, show up on your scheduled day, only to find out that we have "oversold" appointments for that day and have had to reschedule you for another appointment. think that would work? think i could even get away with making it truly like the airline industry and make the people pre-pay? bwahahahahahah. sorry, little levity to the situtation.

so where's this going? well, i have honestly toyed with writing a business book, titled along the lines of The Customer Is Often Wrong. it would be full of stories and antidotes of how businesses in the U.S. fails at seeking a true 1:1 relationship with their customers. right now, most businesses deal with their customers in what i call the Prostitute Model of Business: i pay you and because i pay you, i get to do anything i want; if i feel i don't feel i got what i wanted, i will complain, and as a result, i might not pay you anyway; lastly, i will certainly seek out your competitors for my next business transaction. bleak, huh?

anyway, i know, i am a misanthrope, obviously headed towards my angry, old man years. up my meds, please!

Replies: 3 Comments

classic

dac said @ 05/17/2005 08:20 PM CST

Dude, I *wish* it was the prostitution model. I would GLADLY pay the extra $50 just so I could have the pleasure of pile driving the rotten bastages who run most of the "Service Industry" services I tend to use.

Maybe after a few nights of sleeping on their bellies it would dawn on these MENSA candidates that their customers are OUT OF FREAKIN' CONTROL because *they* have allowed them to get that way.

We are looking for a bidness to get into so we can quit this corpo-RAT crap. But, we don't (DO NOT!) want (CANNOT HANDLE) anything dealing with "the public." Right now, winning the lottery is about all I can come up with.

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