Companies avoided it like mad, embracing the statistic that it costs six times as much to earn a new customer than to keep a current one happy and on board.
Accordingly, firms taught their staffs to exceed expectations, to acquit themselves well in stressful transactions, and above all to put the customer first.
The idea of cherishing the customer reached a pinnacle in the oft-told story that made retailer Nordstrom an icon of exemplary support.
Reputedly, it gave a customer a full refund for a truck tire that failed to live up to his expectations.
Only thing is, Nordstrom, unlike some Sears and Costco locations, had never sold tires. Yet instead of contradicting a consumer, Nordstrom accommodated his refund request.
Over the past twenty-five years, untold billions have been invested in teaching corporate personnel the ins and outs of reducing conflicts and dispensing proper remedies to customers. Yet all of this effort and investment is under attack.
Today’s firms, increasingly, are firing their disgruntled customers, not placating them, says Customersatisfaction.com's Dr. Gary S. Goodman.
Instead of cheerily saying, “Y’all come back now, ya hear?” they’re 86-ing them, to borrow the restaurant term for blackballing.
A lawyer in the UCLA Extension class Goodman teaches, “Best Practices In Negotiation,”
She purchased a piece of clothing online, was billed inaccurately, complained, and was told she would be banned from making further purchases online.
If she wanted to deal with that company she would need to lemming her way into a retail store and spend her money, there.
Goodman's spouse reported the exact same thing. A different online retailer fired her for returning a product and pursuing a proper refund.
"The devolution of 'legendary service' to outsourced and off-shored service, to self-service on the web, to no service, and now to hostile and vindictive service, has taken only one decade and a deep recession to accomplish,"
"Nowadays, squeezing profits means choking the life out of certain customers, those that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software flags as marginally profitable, or as just too costly to sell and to serve," the best-selling author of Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service and a dozen other books, asserts.
Increasingly, he adds, today’s instruction to customers is to “Sit down, shut-up, and spend money!”
"Peter F. Drucker pointed out t that customer service isn’t an add-on, an extra bauble, or an occasional perk," Goodman says, having studied personally with Drucker for two and one-half years.
It is an essential satisfaction, part of the overall value that customers are paying value for, a benefit they expect to receive.
Dash their expectations at your peril.
Is the firing of customers a sustainable practice?
The lawyer’s story evoked a mixture of gasps, dropped jaws, and raised eyebrows. One woman said, “I shop at that chain, but hearing this, I’m never going back!”
This is something CRM systems never envisioned, says Goodman:
Fire Customer “A” because she is unprofitable, and when the lucrative Customer “B,” hears of your conduct, she’ll fire you, and maybe a lot of her Facebook friends will, too.