Don’t Be THAT Guy

Don’t Be THAT Guy

Well, I recently had an encounter that proved I must really be called to this Kingdom business thing. Specifically, an unnamed business intentionally inconvenienced the customer (namely me), for their own self interest and convenience. They said one thing, but did another. Later, when confronted, they claimed there were extenuating circumstances (which may or may not be true given contradictory statements they made). Even so, that would be simple to resolve. All it took from them was some basic communication. “Hey I know we said x, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, we’re in a bad spot, and now we need to do y”. As a customer, I’d have been disappointed, but not angry. Instead, the company didn’t – and still doesn’t – see anything wrong that they did what was best for them, something very different from what they promised, with absolutely no concern for how it would impact me. 

In this particular case, it basically trashed the whole value proposition, the very reason I bought their service in the first place. Even more, the impact their decisions had on me lasted far beyond the transaction and put me in a bad spot for the rest of the day. Even once they knew those impacts, their attitude was, “Oh well that you’re screwed, but we’re doing what’s best for us.” No alternative, no “here’s a workaround”, nothing. A day later I was still in a sour mood about it. (Yes, I spent time praying about that … and what I learned may not be what you expect.) 

The thing is, our business is in a situation right now where we have a bug in our software, that’s caused an inconvenience for some (not all) of our customers. Their experience is falling short of our brand promise. In response, we have all hands on deck internally working on the problem. The customer engagement team has been in constant, transparent communication with the affected customers, and our team is empowered to do whatever it takes to restore our customer’s trust and deliver an experience that is aligned with our brand promise. If that means we have to take on extra work and inconvenience, so that our customers DON’T, we’ll do it. Whatever it takes. I’m not asking for a pat on the back for this or any extra credit. This is what we SHOULD do. This is table stakes. (Our customers have responded accordingly. I wouldn’t blame them if they were mad. But they aren’t. They’ve been very gracious and patient with us as we work through the issue because we’ve been transparent, accountable, and collaborative.)

Which just makes it all the more annoying when I’m on the receiving end of a business that just doesn’t care. I’m not going to publicly shame them. They’re a small business. I get that it’s not easy to run one, especially a consumer-facing one, especially these last few years. But that’s no excuse for acting selfishly, compromising your customer’s experience, for your own self interest. So I confronted them privately. Not because there’s anything they can do or I want them to do for me, but so they don’t blow it with future customers. I wanted to see them prosper. Until they responded back with even more reasons why it was perfectly fine for them to say one thing, do another, and how their interests were more important than my experience. 

So after all that, maybe I don’t want to see them prosper after all. Let’s not sugarcoat it. Businesses like that, large or small, just need to go out of business, because the world doesn’t need those kinds of businesses. Every business can’t be the absolute best in their market, but neither should there be participation trophies for businesses that behave badly. The whole point of a business is to serve customers. If you’re only in it for you, you don’t really have a business. 

Don’t be that guy…

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