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How To Fail Your Customer Relationships

November 16, 2008

In times which are screaming “recession”, “depression”, and other words ending in “ession” there are tons of great examples to follow of companies who are having total communication breakdown between themselves and their customers. This doesn’t happen by accident. No, sir. There are techniques which you can observe and learn if you are serious about failing your relationships with what might be left of your clientele.

One of the most important ideas to understand is the concept of – Who is in charge, dammit?

This is you or your company…


These are your customers…


Don’t let the customer think they can do whatever the hell they want. You must turn around the idea of providing a service to a customer to thinking of the customer like a peasant and your company like a powerful land owner. The customer must feel like they are asking for a favour to be bestowed on them by your goodwill and not that somehow you are there to bail them out whenever they coming running.

Relationships can only be completely broken down
if their is a distinct difference in heirachy and that difference is used abusively.

Imagine you work in a car dealership for a moment and a customer limps into the workshop on a Monday morning with the car they have purchased coughing and spluttering like its on its last legs.

“Ah, it’s the clutch. Bad luck,” you say.
“When do you think you will be able to fix it?” The customer asks.
“Not before two weeks.”
“Two weeks?”
“We only order parts on Tuesday.”
“Just do”
“Today is Monday.”
“Tomorrow we aren’t working.”
“Just aren’t.”
“So you can’t order a clutch on Wednesday?”
“So I have to wait until next week until you can ever order the part?”
“Then I have to wait until you get around to fixing it?”
“Can’t you change the rules.”
“Not my shop pal.”
Okay, so can you lend me car?”
“Why not?”
“Rules. I can rent you a car.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“So, you can’t find a car in this car dealership to lend me whilst you wait to order a new clutch then schedule in my car to be fixed?”
“Hey don’t take it like that buddy, I just work here.”

Now let’s look at some of the key points of this little example.

1. You refuse to help hiding behind rules. This is a very astute move and you are well on your way to failure. Rules are made to take away any form of independant thought or common sense. Of course just inventing rules doesn’t make something the law but people forget this and abstract rules can be used very efficiently to help in your company/customer relationship breakdown.

2. You define clearly the difference between your customer who is in need and you who have the capacity to meet their need. Through a short and twisted logic the customer feels like they are asking for your favour before you are prepared to move even one inch towards helping them out. Fantastic! You are the nobleman and the customer is the serf. A recipe for inevitable failure.

3. At the end of the exchange you point out to the customer who is the real victim in this situation. You! Hey, it’s not your company so why is the customer getting so snippy? If it was your company the victimisation card is even easier to play – “Hey, if I help you out, I have to help everyone out and who helps me out buddy? No one, that’s who. Who helps me pay my taxes? You? Get the hell out of here!”

Instant failure guaranteed!

There a hundreds of great examples of companies who are employing these methods and who are carving their way to failure as I am writing this post. The example is not made up. It’s real! (n’est pas Christophe).

Sonia Simone from Remarkable Communication shrewdly posts about customers being treated like an inconvenience in a series she is putting together called “Dumb Things Small Businesses Do That You Can’t Afford”. This is another take on the above example.

Now imagine, one of those dumb companies could be yours!

What are you waiting for!

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