Saturday, August 23, 2008

Right customers.

I usually read Lowell Lamberton's column, Tips for Small Business, in Cascade Business News. Somewhat useful, but mostly basic for someone who's been running a business for 25 years. So I started reading the August 20 entry with interest, just from the title:

"The (Right) Customer is Always Right."

O.K. I think to myself. At least he's not saying the Customer is Always Right. But I still expect that to be the gist of the actual column.

First paragraph is pretty good, if vague.

"Have you ever heard or repeated the old saying "the customer is always right"? Let's take a look at that old maxim in the context of the real world of business. We would like to offer this as a counter statement: "The right customer is always right, but the wrong customer is often very wrong -- at least for your business."

So...using the words "real" world, and "wrong customer" sounds promising. I'll keep reading. As in all business advice columns, I know I'll hit the "oh, damn," moment, where I completely disagree with what they're saying.

"Businesspeople who have begun with "the customer is always right" philosophy will often discover the necessity of categorizing customers, whether they want to or not..." and it goes on, paragraph after paragraph to the end, right on message, right on target.

Miracle of miracles.

I highly recommend that you go get this issue of Cascade Business for this one column alone. I'd repeat it in total here, but I'm not sure how they'd feel about that. Most of the rest of the newspaper is fluff, but this was a homerun.

I especially like how he brought up the possibility that the customer might not share the same values and integrity as you.

"If your business features honesty and fairness as core values, you will have a great potential for trouble if your client doesn't share those values..."

And it dares to bring up prioritizing customers, and to suggest that you have to treat customers differently.

"Your best procedure is to "spoil" the top, cultivate the middle, and low the bottom."

You said it!

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