Vail Daily column: Are you a good customer? |

Vail Daily column: Are you a good customer?

We have all seen it or witnessed it before, a customer who is antagonistic, rude and obnoxious, treating the employee and even the manager or business owner so poorly that they end up belittling the person and making everyone around them uncomfortable. They behave this way because they believe that such aggressiveness coupled with a raised voice and an attitude of anger will get them better service.

Stop and think about that for one minute. I am sure you also see the irony and ridiculousness of such a thought process. Yet some people just can’t help themselves, missing the whole concept of catching more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.


Regardless of the business we are in and the role we play, our No. 1 goal should be creating customer loyalty and building a network of raving fans that will allow us to generate the income that we need in order to provide the best service possible. And I would say that as a consumer in the community I am almost always pretty impressed with the level of service, attitude and knowledge of the folks who are there to help me.

Let me ask you a question, have you ever found yourself in a position where you had to fire a customer? Yes, you read that right, have you ever had to fire a customer? Have you ever been fired as a customer? I can share with you that I have ended relationships with several customers over the years, it was always a little uncomfortable but I had no regrets when it was finally done. You see the customer may always be the customer, but the customer is not always right, and the customer does not have the right to treat you or your employees rudely.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is always a last resort to take such a drastic action. There are discussions and compromises offered, some sharing of information and even some negotiation. But when the aggressive behavior and angry attitude are consistent and the requests are outrageous and unreasonable, then it is time to suggest to the customer that they should seek your particular products and services elsewhere. Again the customer is always the customer, but not every customer is a good or profitable customer.

Setting mutual expectations up front is the key in helping to avoid such uncomfortable and awkward situations. Providing ourselves and our employees with safe boundaries when such customers show up in our business will reduce stress and preserve our employee’s dignity while leading to a reduction in staffing turnover.

If I could ask you to stop and think about any recent interactions where you were the one involved in a conflict with a business or where you witnessed a terrible incident. How did you feel? How do you think the other people around you felt? The words that come to mind are embarrassed, uncomfortable, disappointed and maybe even sympathetic for both the consumer and the employee.


So, how about you? Are you a good customer? Do you understand that not everything is perfect every time and that if you maintain a positive attitude, open mind and participate constructively with the businesses where you love to shop, eat, drink and play, in finding a mutually rewarding win-win solution, that you will never find yourself being “fired” as a customer?

I would really love to hear your thoughts about the importance of being a good customer at, and when we realize that being a good customer is being a good citizen, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.