Dear Customer, You are not always right.

I wasn’t sure how long it would be before I decided to write another blog. I don’t want to feel compelled to put something up just to do it. With that being said this topic is something I can no longer ignore.

 

I’m not sure who came up with the phrase “The customer is always right” but I would love to take a running start from 20 feet away and kick them as hard as I can in the balls. Yes.. I assume it was a guy because we have a tendency to say stupid stuff without thinking. It’s in our DNA.

 

Having been in the customer service business for 25+ years Ive seen an evolution that no longer looks like it did back in 1992 when I started delivering pizza for the local fox’s pizza shop. I can hardly remember a time that customers would get so pissed off and irate at a mistake that you would question whether delivering pizza was the right job for you.

 

Seriously, just because your life sucks, you cant manage your finances, and your spouse is cheating on you doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole with people that are in a position to help you. I doubt people in customer service wake up in the morning and say “ I cant wait to get to work today so I can not help you with your problem.”

 

Everyone out there has heard of the 80/20 rule. It’s no different when it comes to dealing with the general public. 80% of the frustrations, issues, drama, and anger come from 20% of our clients. What makes this small group of people so angry, entitled, and rude? More importantly why do we tolerate this behavior and continue to enable them by allowing them to wreak havoc on those trying to help?

Here is another quote I heard recently that sends chills down my spine.

“The customer is at the center of our business”

Wrong! My employees are at the center of my business. By keeping them happy everyday they will in return make you happy Mr. & Mrs. Customer. If you continue to act like a undisciplined child you quickly lose credibility and every time you call the office and your name pops up on the caller ID. They will pretend to be busy in an effort to not talk to you. Not because they don’t want to help you. Its because you have wore them down to a point in prior interactions that dealing with your behavior is worse than any discipline they face from their manager.

 

With unemployment at an all time low its not hard finding a new customer service job. Companies are spending billions trying to create great customer service. Go search the job websites and you will see for yourself that 75% of the jobs out there are for customer service. Why? Because companies are having an issue-keeping people happy daily in what is becoming one of the worst jobs in America.

 

Disrespectable customers will eat up all your time, energy, and money. Im going to focus on the money part first. I’m in an industry where clients pay a lot of money on a monthly basis to hopefully have a policy in force in the event they need to use it. The reality is 90% of the money does not go to me. It goes into a pool of funds designed to pay claims for those that are actually using their policy. That leaves a very small amount of money left for me to run my business on a daily basis. Its not until I have a very large client base that I have a steady enough revenue stream to run an effective business. What this means is that one client contributes very little to my overall revenue stream yet we continue to allow them to suck up the majority of our resources. Trust me when I say it’s the same people every week or month.

 

Just this week I had a belligerent client call the office 8 times to complain about her bill. She can’t pay the amount she owes because she hasn’t made a payment in 2 months. Because of this it’s our fault that we wont accept a partial payment on what has become very large sum. She yells at my team because we wont work with her. She threatens to leave us, yells at my customer service team, and only after shopping around for another company realizes that in fact she is getting a great deal on her insurance. As you can imagine the last call is a very calm and civil. She thinks its totally acceptable for us to forget the prior seven conversations with no apology to anyone that tried to help her. Its too late… the damage is done! You have lost respect by everyone that has tried to help you. In the end all we want are client to engage us in reasonable conversation. I have no problem using my limited resources on those that are reasonable and can have a normal conversation without getting all bent out of shape. When you escalate the conversation to yelling, rudeness, and threats Im done. Move along.. your business is no longer welcome here. No matter what my team does it will not be good enough for you. I can no longer allow your interaction with my team suck up energy and put everyone in a mood that will cheat the next person out of a great experience.

 

Management must defend their employees and keep them away from these toxic customers. If you don’t show them that you have your back you will quickly lose credibility with your own team. No amount of money is worth having an office full of miserable employees.

 

I don’t want to give the impression that these interactions are always bad for the business. If done in the proper way it’s a great way for us to learn how to correct our mistakes. The only way we can get better at servicing our clients is through reasonable dialogue. I don’t claim to always know the best way to serve our clients. With some many needs and personalities we have to remain flexible and in tune to their specific needs. In order to get to this position we have to remain open minded and willing to learn. A satisfied client base is just as detrimental to a business that wants to grown and get better.

 

So, stop enabling this behavior. Stop allowing them to threaten you with negative reviews on social media if you don’t bend the rules. Stop allowing them to suck the life out of your team. And more importantly start managing the client’s expectations early on in the relationship. Tell them that it is our job to help them and we will do everything in our power to make them happy within the rules but we will not tolerate rudeness, threats, or childish behavior. Sometimes the best way to brighten the room is to leave it. There are a lot of businesses out there that are desperate for your money. I sir am not one of them.

False Ego – Your life depends on it

A reality for those that set their standards based on tangible results and stuff such as money, size of their house, the car they drive, and how they look in the mirror? False Ego.

When times are good… things are awesome! I used to work with young single guys that would rent out hotel rooms at the Westin downtown on a Friday night to celebrate their kick ass week and how much money they put in their pocket. Not going to lie…..I was basically engaged and married or I may have been one of them. Even though it was short-lived it became a lifestyle. They consumed shit loads of drugs and alcohol just to celebrate their success and feed their ego. After all they had arrived! These guys came from all different backgrounds but the ones that were always the worst were the ones that came from nothing. Rather than being satisfied for a job well done. They needed to be loud, cocky, and almost too intense at times in order to make people see how great they were doing. Almost like they have been carrying around this big chip on their shoulder for years and now it was time to let that fucker loose.

I’ve spent the last 21 years of my life surrounded by people who were programmed to achieve results. Most of them have either been in some sort of commissioned based sales position or in the fitness industry. Both require a tremendous amount of Ego to be successful. Unfortunately most of it is false ego. The odds of it eventually being followed up by some sort of depression or anxiety is very high. Very few are wired to sustain a high level of achievement over a long period of time. Some of the best salesman I know eventually succumb to father time. What have you done lately becomes the reality because nobody cares about what you did yesterday. There will always be someone who wants it more than you and will chase you down. Before you know what hit you they are already so far ahead there is no way you can catch up. At that point you have two options. You can do what unfortunately most do and start to lose confidence and eventually give up. I’ve seen this often in my own business over the years. Another option is you can prepare yourself mentally beforehand that you will work to do your best but one day your best may not be good enough. Get as much out of it as you can but know ahead of time that eventually you will have to figure out what life is like without it. Look at how many athletes get hurt, retire, and get fired from the professional level. Within years they are filing bankrupt and selling insurance or financial services for a brokerage firm or some other type of sales position.

If you look closely at the people you know in these industries you will notice a high turnover rate in friends and center of influence. It becomes a game of who can help me reach my goals the fastest. There is very little loyalty when it comes to helping others achieve success. #1 rule in business is that it’s always about business. The joy ride starts to slow down as people that depended on each other to keep up their ego end up becoming victim to the example I gave above. You slowly see people around you drop away like flies. The pressure or bullshit eventually gets to them. Their support system breaks down because everyone is out there trying figuring out their own fucking problems. They are then left to figure shit out for themselves. This leads to a whole new set up issues.

Too much time gets spent sucking up bullshit being spewed by the people around them. It becomes one big circle jerk. They start to feed off each other. The bigger they build up the people around them the more important they became… Here in lies the problem. When this starts to happen the people around you own your ass mentally. As fitness professional Joe Donnelly once said. The ability to dismiss the accolades and compliments as quickly as dismissing the negativity will be critical to long term happiness. Here is the first problem with motivation. Nobody can motivate you long term. They can threaten you or incentivize you but its all short term and eventually dies with ego. You end up in the same state you were in before you started the journey.

You want to see what a lot of future disappointed people look like before they become disappointed? Go open up an IG account and add 1000 people currently in the fitness industry. In 3-5 years go back and see how many of these want to be fitness professionals are still around posting current up to date pics of themselves. What you see will be a bunch pictures with the hashtags #fbf or #fbt. For those not on Instagram they are pictures of what life used to look like when life was good. Many will get lucky and defy the odds trading fame for fortune. I’d love to see what that true statistic looks like but Im willing to bet the odds are greater for a 5’10’ white point guard making it to the NBA.

So why did I write all this? Because over the last 20 years I was this guy minus the drugs. I’ve never tried an ounce of drugs in my life other than marijuana. I’ve been at the highest point. To have the ability to do whatever the fuck I wanted and to buy whatever I wanted in order to make myself feel great about myself. On the flip side I’ve also felt what it was like to be at the bottom when those that used to call you for advice barely say hi when you pass them in a hallway or see them at the grocery store. It takes time to mature but when you do you start to be more observant to the things around you. Specifically ones that you have experienced yourself. I continue to see people enter the sales industry. Many become successful fast…. Almost as fast as their ego. I wish there was something I could tell them that would help them out before they go down the same path that many did before them.

My best word of advice is not to seek happiness in physical tangible things. Create a foundation for yourself that nobody can take away from you. Focus on family, friends, and faith. Enjoy the simple things in life. I get it… money is important and a necessity. Go ask the person that has money if they really think it’s what gives them happiness. People value things they don’t have. Go ask a wealthy woman that’s not fertile who always wanted children if she would trade her fortune for an opportunity to have a family of her own if you want true perspective.