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It's Time To Stop The "Love The Customer" Nonsense and Get Serious About Customer Service

cut the crap about loving your customers and get down to basics.
It's time to cut the crap about customer service "love", and start to deliver basic, efficient, fast service to customers. It's the ONLY way to sustainable competitive advantage-do the basics better than your competitors. It's the no-headline approach to customer service.

All the exhortations to "love your customers" are doing nothing but allow the "experts" to feel self-righteous, while at the same time, customers are saying that customer service is getting worse by the year. It's time to stop the crap, fire the consultants and customer service fanatics, and start providing customers with BASIC customer service at a high level!

I've come across all kinds of statements about how I should “love” my customers”, cherish them, make them the most valuable part of my business, and on and on, particularly from people that I used to jokingly refer to as members of the Church of Customer Service, largely because their comments are extreme and based on faith, not data. Now I don't refer to them jokingly about being members of a customer service church. I'm serious.

So, confession time at the church. I love my wife. I love my family. I love my close friends. I even feel I can say I love our family animals. Oddly, if I lose a customer I don't feel nearly like I would if I lost a pet, or a family member. Hmmmm.

I do not however, love my customers and I never will. Why?

First, the idea of love. It's a very important idea in our society because it is an idea that refers to an emotion that bonds us to each other, helps keep the species alive, and is seen as a driving force, in fact perhaps THE driving force in the human psyche. I'm not sure I want to demean that by using the term indiscriminately. Ok. I understand. I love ice cream, but I really don't mean it in the same way as “I love my wife”, except on very warm stressful days. The thing is that one refers to a thing, and another a person, so it's not likely we'll get them confused.

Second though, if I say “I love my wife“, and I say “I love my customers“, I am not sure I want to run the risk of my wife saying: “Is that all? You mean you love me, and you love customers? Oy.” I don't know how to explain to her that the same word applied to her, and then applied to customers doesn't mean similar things. Because it doesn't. It demeans those you love if you overuse the term.

Ah, but third is this: How can you love people you have never met or spoken to? How can you love your potential customers who you cannot even know as individuals? You can't. Not in any meaningful sense. It's simple utter hyperbole and crap used to make empty points.You might love the idea of a customer, but not the customer, who you do not know even exists.

Sorry, bubbahs, but you don't love your customers, or, if you really do, I'd suggest some serious therapy. Psst. Don't tell your wife, or your kids that customers rival them for your love.

I won't cherish customers, either. In fact I will not offer any hyperbole about customers. I will offer this:

The relationship between a customer and you/me is simple. It's a relationship based on the exchange of money (usually) in return for goods and services. It is a relationship only in the sense that it is an economic relationship. Anything emotional beyond this is taking this into a completely different realm,  altering a relationship based on economics, to a relationship based on friendship or other things. Then, if you love that person, you don't love the customer. You love Joe, who happens to be your customer.

The customer — business relationship is also one of equals in the sense that neither owes the other anything other than is deemed by both to be required to complete the economic transaction. As a business person, I do not SERVE, my customer. You are not my master, and I am not yours. I do, however, help, support, educate, inform, occasionally commiserate (not on the basis our our customer relationship, but as human to human), talk with, talk to, question, answer, sympathize. But serve I do not.

My customer can leave or stop paying me, and I can stop taking the money. Beyond that nothing is owed except that which I owe any other human being, my neighbors, community members, church members, people standing in line at the grocery.

In short, customers are not special. Important for my business, yes. but special beyond that? No. No more special than I am. Equal.

Don't demean your family, yourself and the word love, by claiming to love your customers. You don't. Or you need serious help.

Before you respond, read this at least twice. If you have questions based on your effort to understand, I'll answer and help if I can. If all you want to do is be stupid in your comments by making ad hominem remarks, don't bother. If you don't WANT to understand what I've written here, don't bother talking to me. Go to Twitter and do it there, where I won't respond either.

About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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