When to fire a customer

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

My friend Tim Sullivan once explained to me that you buy standing up and sell on your knees.

There is a lot of wisdom behind this pithy, school-of-hard-knocks saying.

If you sell, lose your attitude

Buy standing up and sell on your knees” is not quite the same as saying that “the customer is always right”.

It’s more like — “know your place in the transaction and don’t develop an attitude”. Understand that you are not in a position to demand compliance with your way of doing business and how you provide service.

Your mission is to close the sale not to educate the customer on your theories on customer service.

Hopefully, you will eventually close the sale and become a supplier.

Service your customer fanatically

After agreeing on price and terms of payment and delivery, you will no doubt define a service level agreement with service windows and communication channels as part of the transaction.

When you define your SLA — make sure you define a PRT — primary response time to a service call. Don’t confuse PRT with time to resolution. There are bugs in application software that can be reproduced in 10' and take 10 months to fix.

If there are problems — take them personally.

Be grateful for your customer

Supporting a customer after a sale is like supporting a relationship after a marriage. You have to think in your mind how grateful you are for having this relationship. That feeling of gratefulness will influence how you give service.

When to fire a customer

When you no longer care. You’ve been attentive to detail, provided support above and beyond the call of duty but sometimes, the relationship becomes abusive and you (the supplier) no longer care.

My 2c to customers everywhere:

Never push a loyal supplier to the point where he no longer cares

At this point, your supplier should fire you and if he doesn’t fire you first — you need to sit down and have a serious conversation explaining why you are terminating the relationship.

Do it now. Not later.



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