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Everyone in every organization works for the customer. Everyone works to make customers happy with the values they receive for their money. To a customer, good value is based on product quality, timely delivery, hassle-free exchange, fresh fruit in the room, an extra ear of corn with a dozen, a sincere smile, a sincere thank-you, or being kept informed on the status of an order, a lawsuit, or a research project. Customers reward the good works of employees by buying more product or services, or telling others about the good things about the employee’s company. When customers buy the products, that money is used to fund employees’ paychecks and vacations and coffee breaks.

If customers decide that they are not getting appropriate value for their money, and take their money elsewhere, the selling company has less money to pay its employees, or to pay for anything else. If the company loses revenue, it will be forced to reduce cost to remain viable. If an employee, or group of employees, is not generating an economic return greater than its cost to the company, that cost will be cut and the employee (s) will be terminated. That termination is a direct result of lost customers.

Customers fire employees every day for many reasons. The customer ignored or treated rudely walks out of the store, the restaurant, the dry cleaner. The customer confused by jargon or put off by selling pressure leaves the showroom, the appliance center, the dealership. The customer whose order is not delivered as promised rejects the delivery or purchases from a different source the next time. The customer who hasn’t the time to navigate a bewildering electronic phone system hangs up. The customer whose reservation is lost, whose product is damaged, whose account is misbilled, whose flowers don’t bloom is a customer at risk.

Recently a major mall went out of business, leaving thousands of people jobless. The mall went out of business for various reasons, including incompetent management, ineffectual strategy, poor employee training, and because the customers shunned the stores and the store personnel. A visit to the mall showed why. A customer planning to buy one hundred appliances (for a new homes’ subdivision) made an appointment with the store manager to visit the store a half hour earlier than the regular opening time. Arriving exactly thirty minutes before opening, the customer found locked doors. The store manager was MIA (missing in action). Peering through the glass, the customer spotted two employees chatting and drinking coffee. Pinging the window glass with a key caught the attention of the two employees. One of the employees pointedly indicated his watch and mouthed an exaggerated “We’re closed!” The other employee held up ten fingers, helpfully instructing the ready, willing, and able-to-buy customer that the store opened at 10:00. Pleased with their educational efforts, the two employees ambled out of sight.

The customer took his business to a company grateful for the orders. The customer fired those two employees, their MIA store manager, and their associates that day.

Months later, the two coffee drinkers, and over 20000 fellow workers, had no customers, no stores, and no paychecks.

Bernard Taiwo
I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.