If we truly believe in customer “relationships”, then the concept that the customer is always right is unfortunately flawed, because very few people are ALWAYS right. Customers can be irrational, selfish, irresponsible, and even unprofitable.
As in any relationship, sometimes there is mis-alignment of expectations and lack of a compelling value proposition for both sides. The opportunity for value exchange changes and evolves over time. The duty of an organization is to continually listen, show empathy, gain a deeper understanding of needs and jobs, and provide a product or service offering that provides significant value for their customers, or better yet, provide a platform for customers to co-create their own products and services, and support each other in their mutual journeys and jobs to be done.
To fail to recognize that some customers are simply unprofitable is to deny the truth. In some cases, it may make sense for the organization, in their best interest and in duty to their shareholders to first attempt to re-establish relational guidelines in order to achieve a better balance for both parties, or in some cases, even “fire customers”.
Understand that the context I am speaking of is one of an endless and tireless pursuit to create value, to delight customers, and to create a community of engaged, happy, and enthusiastic customers. The reality is that each of our respective organizations won’t be a fit for some customers.
In service to those who are engaged, it may make sense to re-allocate human capital away from those who are unprofitable for the organization towards better servicing those who are.
Before anyone screams at me about how customers are about more than profits for the organization, I agree. The challenge is that profits today are only measured in monetary currency. These current limitations ignore things like referral value, or recommendation value.
In short, it’s important to listen, serve, and respect customers. However, not all relationships are equal nor mutually beneficial.