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Who comes first – the boss or the customer?

November 22, 2022
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Who comes first – the boss or the customer?

This crucial question comes down to your company culture and mindset – and both are changing hopefully as fast as technology is changing the status quo in most industries.

Of course, there is no right or wrong here but there is a definite shift. Technology is changing most industries in rapid fashion. Hierarchical companies, especially large corporations, can no longer depend on one leader, one CEO, or even one manager to be depended upon for answers. In many industries, the answers are not contained within the executive/management chain or even within company walls.

The customer is always right?

If you have been in business for any amount of time, you realize that the customer is definitely not always right. In fact, that’s why they come to you in the first place. However…

The customer always knows what’s wrong!

In this digital wiki world we live in now, if something is wrong with your product, service, delivery or even your attitude, your customers will let you and anyone with a smartphone or computer know, in short measure.

The best companies can turn online trolls into digital consultants – simply by listening and changing. Your customers will tell you about a hole in your brand and you can patch it immediately. By the time your C-suite recognizes the hole (if ever) and issues a directive to patch your brand, the damage is long done. 

Briefly, a famous example is when United Airlines baggage handlers were caught tossing around a professional musician’s $5,000 Taylor guitar breaking the neck. Watching through the window while boarding the guitar owner complained to the flight attendants who ignored him. Through a technicality, and after a year-long battle United executives refused to pay for repairs of just $1,200. Unfortunately for United, guitarist David Caroll posted a song entitled “United Breaks Guitars” on The song went viral and garnered over 4 million views. A United executive called Caroll urging him to remove the video, which Caroll refused to do. Taylor Guitars received so much exposure due to the video, they sent Caroll two new Taylor guitars as a thank you.

To the point of absurdity

Recently in Colorado, a customer, let’s call him Brad, was in a big box store that shall remain nameless, but its initials are Office Max.  Brad had to use the restroom and asked the clerk where it might be located. The clerk said, “we don’t have restrooms for customers”. Brad asked with a smile “where do you go then or do you hold it all day?” The clerk replied, “we do have employee-only restrooms”. Amused, Brad continued; “What would happen if you let a customer use an employee-only restroom”? The clerk thought for a minute…”Well if someone reported me, I might be fired”. Brad said, “You must be kidding – I’m walking out now and you should run away.”

The difference is the mindset

Don’t look at the above two stories as examples of bad customer service. They are stories about a mindset that permeates a weak brand and inept culture. Each story reveals a mindset that comes from the top and is fast becoming out-dated as an effective management style. Rules are rules, yes, but in each case above a pro-customer mindset would have found a way to make the customer win.

Rules are rules but …

 At LACOSTA we realize rules are rules and contracts are contracts, but our mindset is always pro-customer. For instance, recently on one of our janitorial accounts we were suddenly asked to set up, and clean up, a large event for a visiting dignitary. Our crew responded by pitching in immediately. Afterward, our customer remarked “some of our vendors would have stopped everything and sent back to headquarter to draft a new proposal with a defined scope of work and additional charges for our purchasing department to review and sign. By then the event would have been over. The LACOSTA crew just stepped up. Brought in resources to meet the task. So we appreciate them and funny thing, but I don’t remember ever putting their contract out to bid like our rules require. And we look for ways to keep them happy.”

LACOSTA employees are trained to have a helpful, problem-solving approach to our work – we keep aware – like the eyes and ears for our customer’s facilities.

That’s the value of a pro-customer mindset.

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