How to Balance Customer Happiness with Employee Happiness

We all know that the customer is often wrong.

They demand things that violate policy. They treat employees that didn’t make the policies horribly. They are huge pains in the rear end for oh, so many things. However, without the customers, we have no business.

Therefore, many companies have instituted a “customer is always right” model of business. Sounds great for keeping customers happy, but it’s a nightmare for the employees. The reality is, if you allow your customers to treat your employees poorly, you’ll lose your best employees. You don’t want that. Here’s how you can make (almost) everyone happy.

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3 thoughts on “How to Balance Customer Happiness with Employee Happiness

  1. Happy employees generally make for happy(er) customers. Successful companies — like Southwest Airlines — recognize and implement this basic principle.

  2. One of the decent (neither great nor terrible) bosses of my past once handled something beautifully for me – he was a dentist, and one of his patients berated me on the phone. I was used to “difficult” patients and was always good at winning them over, but this one was actually hostile.

    The dentist happened to be friends with someone that patient used to work for and, being careful to maintain patient confidentiality, asked his friend about how that person was at work. His friend responded that she was a bully who they had to let go for treating co-workers terribly.

    The dentist told me to write a patient dismissal letter for him to sign. He said the last thing we needed was a known bully. It would have been nice if he would have dismissed her solely on my bad experience, but it was still worth it that he did so after double checking. Feels really good when a boss has your back!

  3. Yes, “fire” your customer. Not something to be done lightly; but, sometimes it is necessary.

    Years ago we had a customer who treated everyone rudely at the software company I was working for. It got to the point that no one on the help desk wanted to take her calls – “You’ll have to fire me before I deal with her again” was said by more than half the Help Desk staff.

    Finally, our manager decided that she had enough. Our manager called the customer, explained to her what was happening and that we would give a full refund if the customer would seek out another software vendor. We would even help that vendor transfer the data from our system to theirs.

    Wow! What a change in attitude! While I wasn’t privy to the call, the manager explained to me that we were not the first software vendor to tell her to go away. And that the customer pleaded to let her keep our software as she didn’t want to go through changing vendors for a third time.

    Yes, that is right, 2 other vendors gave this customer the old heave ho.

    Within a few months this customer was sort of back to her old ways (not nearly as bad as she used to be; but still not acceptable); However, all it took was one phone call or just a reminder from the Help Desk supervisor and she would straighten up again.

    The Help Desk supervisor also came up with a very clever solution for the staff. Everyone’s name was put on a “THAT Customer” list. Once you took a call from her your name was crossed out. You, as the help desk staff, would not have to deal with her again until everyone else dealt with her a least once. I don’t know if this customer ever realized that returning her calls took a lot longer than other customers.

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