Waiting For The Customer, Or Someone Like Him

Firesign TheatreThe customer is always right. The customer is king. The customer comes first. We wouldn't be here without the customer. The customer is our front line warrior. Our business is designed around the customer's needs. We listen to our customers. I was once in a restaurant and had the joyous experience of watching as first the waiter, then the dining room manager, then the general manager, and finally someone I could only assume was the owner tried to appease a disgruntled customer. The lettuce was wilty. The wine was off. The beer lines hadn't been cleaned after the last keg change. The glasses weren't properly washed.

There was a smudge on the dinner plate where the cook's towel had tried to wipe away a gravy fingerprint and failed. The horror.

The entire restaurant became eerily still as the spectacle continued. Only this diner's table seemed unaware of the general level of discomfort.

By the end of it all, other tables were avoiding desserts, walking away from not-yet-empty bottles of wine and otherwise ending their evenings early to get away from the spectacle. Student of human nature though I am, even I found myself wanting to be anywhere else by the end of my dinner.

Was the customer right?

Is every customer always right?

Did the customer cost that restaurant many other customers in his quest to be right? What might have happened had a manager simply terminated the dinner early, told that customer that his custom was not desired, invited him to enjoy the appetizers and drinks they'd already enjoyed with the establishment's compliments and go look for his dinner elsewhere? I suspect a round of applause from the other diners might have been the outcome. Perhaps.

Certainly more repeat business.

Michael Hyatt recently wrote about giving our attention to the negative to the detriment of the positive. I thought of his words a lot in the context of this experience. It takes a certain bravery to "fire" a customer, but the alternatives can be far more damaging to your business.

Update: Mike Michaelowicz wrote about this just a few days ago in his post Clone The Best, Dump The Rest.

Is customer selection something you have practiced, or something you think you should consider practicing? How?

Image from Firsign Theatre's album, Everything You Know is Wrong.