Customer Service

As a former retail store manager I would always tell my employees that I am really not their boss. I would tell them that the customer is actually your boss. I also made it clear that the customer is my boss as well.

I would explain that without our customers we have no sales. Without sales we would not be able to cover operating costs including our salaries. The customer pays us not the company.

All businesses large and small should understand that without sales nothing else matters. Period.  

Customers Are The Most Important Stakeholder

Corporate Stakeholders

When I was in business school they would talk about company or corporate stakeholders. The stakeholder concept was first used in 1963 by the Stanford Research Institute and further developed by R. Edward Freeman in the 1980's.

A corporate stakeholder is defined as:

  1. Any group that can affect the business by the actions that the groups makes.

  2. Any group that the business can affect by the actions that the company makes.

Furthermore, the stakeholder was defined by the Stanford Research Institute as "those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist."

Corporate stakeholders can also be categorized as primary, secondary, internal or external.

  • Primary stakeholders have direct involvement in economic (financial) transactions with the company like investors and customers.

  • Secondary stakeholders do not engage in economic (financial) transactions with the company like the government or the general public.

  • Internal stakeholders refer to people inside the company or involved in day-to-day operations like the employees or the management team.

  • External stakeholders refers to people outside the corporation who are not directly involved in the day-to-day operations like customers and investors.

Nevertheless, the most important stakeholders in a corporation are the primary stakeholders and at the very top of that list is the customer followed by the investors and creditors. When companies make major moves it is usually to satisfy the customer, investors, and creditors.

This fact is very evident when you take a look at today's current economic climate. Companies lay off employees, stop buying from suppliers, and hurt the general public through hazardous business practices all for the sake of the shareholders or creditors. Employees, suppliers, and the general public (society) are all stakeholders in a company but they are way down on the list of priorities.

Do YOU Recognize Your Power As A Consumer

Throughout all of that the investors and creditors even know their place when it comes to the CUSTOMER. Investors recognize that without customers they will lose their investment. Creditors know that without customers they will not get their loans paid back.

The question that is constantly racking my brain is:

  1. Do customers recognize that they come before the investors and the creditors?
  2. Do customers recognize the type of power they have over a company?

The reason why I bring this up is because I have several friends who complain to me about a service that they use, a product that they bought, or a company that they do business with. Yet they do not talk to the company about it or, worse, they continue to spend their money with them.

If customers do not tell the company that they are screwing up, then the company will go along with their standard operating procedure. If you continue to spend your hard earned money on a company that does not appreciate you, then you are telling the company that they can continue to treat you like crap and get paid to do so.

It is time that customers take the lead in companies that they do business with. It is time that customers own up to their position as the true CEO's of the companies that they spend their hard earned money to pay for salaries, inventory, and all other expenses.

Ironically, it will not be easy for customers to perform their CEO duties, especially, if the company is horrible all around. You will have to spend time and effort to get things right. You will have to write letters, talk to supervisors, and send emails. In addition to that, if you have to fire the company, you will have to spend time and possibly money, to hire a new company. Customers (CEO's) can't be lazy or they will continue to get screwed and nothing will get better.

Okay. So now that you understand the rigors of being the BOSS let's look at the three things that you need to start doing immediately to get positive results with the companies that you do business with.

  1. You should always demand excellence (quality).
  2. If you see something is not right, then you need to speak up.
  3. You should immediately fire companies that do not change or appreciate you 

Disclaimer: While you are the true CEO of a business you should not let this position go to your head and start taking advantage of your position. You should not be raising hell just to get free stuff or deep discounts. Make sure that whatever you do it is ethical and fair to all parties. Basically, do not become the boss that every employee hates because they are complete jerks.

Always Demand Excellence (Quality)

Like with everything in life it is so easy to be average. As a customer it is so easy to accept average customer service or abusive billing practices. I know it takes up a lot of your time and can cause you stress trying to resolve average customer service or other problems that you are having with a business. However, if you want a superior service or product, then you must demand excellence at all times no matter what the costs.

Speak Up When Something Is Not Right

With the emergence and power of social media, it is possible to severely cripple a company with one viral YouTube video, Tweet, or Facebook post. I have even seen disgruntled CEO's set up websites aimed at destroying a business. Some people will report companies to consumer watch groups. Sometimes mistreated customers will use major media (radio and TV) outlets to voice their concerns with a company.  I believe that these methods should be used in extreme circumstances.

Nevertheless, customers should definitely speak out when thing are going wrong. Customers should try to resolve issues smoothly unless it is something major. Another thing to keep in mind is that customers should not resort to illegal methods like assault to resolve their issues. 

Different customers will utilize different methods to voice their concerns based on their personalities. With that said below are some different ways to voice your concerns. 

  • Speak directly to a manager or the person in charge. 
  • Call to speak to a manager or the person in charge.
  • Send an email to the manager or person in charge.
  • Write a physical letter and send it via to the manager or person in charge. 

If you feel like you are not getting anywhere, then it might be time to voice your concerns to top management using the methods above.

If that doesn't work, then it is time to go "nuclear" with social media, mass media, and reporting them to a consumer watch group like BBB. Depending on the situation you might be able to report them to your the local or state consumer protection agency.

Also if the situation calls for legal action, then you have to do what you have to do. Just make sure that if you are filing a lawsuit that it is worth it. You do not want to be going bankrupt trying to sue a company.

Fire Companies That Do Not Appreciate You

If a company consistently fails to deliver quality and/or does not resolve your issues without you having to go "nuclear", then it is time to give them the boot. Stop giving companies your money if they are not providing you with quality service or products.

Martin Luther King gave everybody a blueprint on how to get businesses to treat their customers right with the bus boycott. The bus companies forgot who they worked for at first. After a few months of watching their bank accounts slowly dry up, they quickly realized that it's not such a bad idea to let black people sit anywhere on the bus after all. 

You will be amazed by the results you get when you are about to cancel a service or demand a refund. All of a sudden the company, starts acting like an employee who is about to get fired. All of a sudden the impossible is possible. The discount rate is magically available. They are offering you a free upgrade. 

Whether you give the company another chance is completely up to you. If it is a deal that is too good to pass up, then take it. If the offer does not make sense, reject it and make a counter. If they are unable to agree to the terms that you want, then continue with the cancellation or refund.

Share your "not-so-good" customer service experiences and what you did to resolve them in the comments section below.