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Old 09-04-2014, 12:01 PM   #1
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Question Dumping the Customer

What do you think?

When is it time to dump a customer? | Dealer Outlook
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:09 PM   #2
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I think he is dead on....some times bully customers need to be shown the door. Still, the customer is not always right, but they are always the customer...until they leave whether ask or on their own volition.
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:29 PM   #3
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Every small business that I have worked for since retiring from the USCG had a black list of customers...that's 5 different small businesses. Each one thrived despite the policy.

The Marine Max I worked for stopped servicing their own boats once the boat was 10 years old no matter how valued the customer. It pissed off quite a few but I was surprised how many sold/traded their boats and bought a new Sea Ray just to keep the service.
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:38 PM   #4
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Spot on.
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Old 09-04-2014, 01:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskan Sea-Duction View Post
What do you think?
I think Norm should read up on Pareto distribution curves.
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Old 09-04-2014, 01:41 PM   #6
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Life is too short to do biz with grumpy people, on either side of the equation.
A business that let's that idea pervade too many employees won't have the problem very long.
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Old 09-04-2014, 02:23 PM   #7
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The problem with dealing with some customers or "dumping" them is the Internet. How many times have we seen a post "Warning - don't do business with XYZ company"?

These usually go on to list imaginary injustices by the company. Still, it's bad for their reputation. And if the company gets on the forum to defend themselves it usually makes the problem worse.

As for refusing to service boats older than ten years even if the dealership sold the boat in the first place, that would make me find someone else, not trade it on a new boat, especially from that same dealership. That's a pretty bad policy and doesn't say much for the dealership or the boats they sell.
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Old 09-04-2014, 02:26 PM   #8
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BV,
Not sure what you are saying. Everybody has a bad day now and again but a consistently unreasonable customer, especially if the contact is frequent will reach the point of diminishing returns. If it is Alice Walton and she is spending millions at your business then it might be necessary when ur being fed "you know what" with a spoon to ask for a shovel. But some customers are not worth it. I will say that decision is a boss/owner decision. He/she is paid to handle these difficult situations.

Had a crazy old Greek woman....I mean crazy, that moved around from business to business in West Fort Worth bullying and insulting employees. I had a hobby job after retirement, grocery store. Employed 175 people. When she came through the door the service desk called all the departments and everybody that could headed to the stock room. My coworkers really needed their jobs, young folks. I made it clear I would handle her, cause I did not need the job. They were/are grocery clerks, not clinical psychologist or social workers. $12 bucks was not enough for that role.

Sure enough before it was over, I experienced top 2 senior managers, that were accoustomed to young, inexperienced people, bringing me in for a meeting over her. Funny how that meeting turned on them so fast, they were speechless. I guess my background of Union VP was a little different than a scared kid.

I left after that but my parting shot was, "you mark my words, this woman is at best disruptive, undermines your credibility and you will have another incident within a month. At worst you are putting your employees at risk by not doing your job, she could flip at any minute and be dangerous...I think she is now."

It was 2 weeks later she created another incident. After a total of 5 years, being barred from the store 3 times for a month each she was told the police would be called if she ever returned.

What I did to cause the meeting, she touched me in anger because I would not go get her special employee to help, he that was hiding out in the stock room. I used my cell phone and called 911 instead of store security that had been ineffective with her so many times b4. Police arrived but not before she fled. Funny how friendly those 2 managers were to me after that. They knew I was right.
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Old 09-04-2014, 03:10 PM   #9
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I worked in several businesses which relied on residual customer sales. This necessitated customer service in order to ensure the customer continued doing business with you on a regular basis. Note that this was B2B (Business to Business) in many cases at an enterprise level. I'm not referring to 'retail' or 'consumer' business.

We used to have a term we called "Firing the Customer". "The Customer is Always right" is a ridiculous and unsustainable, un-scalable concept. In fact, the customer is frequently wrong.

Like any business, there are 'difficult' customers. We do try to go the extra mile to ensure these customers are satisfied. Obviously if there was a legitimate mistake on our end, then we make it right, regardless of the financial loss (within reason).

There are many cases when we've told the customer, that it was simply no longer profitable for us to do business and we would rather have no business than continue loosing money.

The funny part was, every year we would do a 'purge' and discontinue doing business with customers who were legitimately generating losses or no profit. Every time, our sales would go UP. This was because we were actually able to focus on the customers where we WERE making money.

This went along with our other saying "Zero is Greater Than a Negative Number".
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Old 09-04-2014, 04:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
The problem with dealing with some customers or "dumping" them is the Internet. How many times have we seen a post "Warning - don't do business with XYZ company"?

These usually go on to list imaginary injustices by the company. Still, it's bad for their reputation. And if the company gets on the forum to defend themselves it usually makes the problem worse.

As for refusing to service boats older than ten years even if the dealership sold the boat in the first place, that would make me find someone else, not trade it on a new boat, especially from that same dealership. That's a pretty bad policy and doesn't say much for the dealership or the boats they sell.
Yeah...the best managed and run dealership in a huge conglomerate....they just didn't understand....

The entire staff was promoted to regional leadership positions due to their success...and soaring profits.

Yep...not a bad tactic..no telling what kind of people they no longer had to deal with.
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Old 09-04-2014, 06:09 PM   #11
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A short story on "firing a customer"-Years ago I was CFO at a very large Nashville Hotel well known for the quality of its service and its staff. Our GM insisted on it. One weekend, a quite famous singer demanded a breakfast that was not on the room service menu, one that was normally prepared tableside. When advised that was not available by my room service cashier, he was rude and verbally abusive. He was the same to me and threatened the sous chef of not being able to fix a McMuffin. it got to the point where I called the GM at home. He asked that the customer be taken to his office and we would meet. When he arrived, he asked the guest if it was explained to him that what he wanted was not available, when told yes, but the guest wanted it anyway, our GM told him-"I will have our Guest Service staff pack your bags, our limo will take you to any other hotel you wish, but you will not treat my staff that way, You are no longer welcome in our hotel." Well, it took about 60 seconds for that to get around to all 700 employees. From that point on, every employee would have jumped off the roof for that GM. He had just guaranteed that every other guest would receive great service from every employee. For me, a valuable lesson learned early in my business career.
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Old 09-04-2014, 06:11 PM   #12
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We keep a small list of blackballed customers we wont do business with. Usually the next time they call, we tell them we are too busy to get to their project and they should call so and so (usually our competition - ha ha). It works for us. If a customer has a reputation for using all the shop and office resources resolving conflicts or pricing issues, your profits diminish while you are losing out on opportunity elsewhere.
Some of them have gone on the internet and left us bad review, but that is part of the game I suppose and I would think discerning potential customers recognize that as well and only give those bad reviews a certain amount of clout.
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:27 PM   #13
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A famous incident at Southwest Airlines back when Herb Kelleher was running it involved a demanding woman who was making life miserable for one of the airline's counter agents. The passenger was demanding things that the agent simply couldn't do, but the passenger refused to accept this.

She later wrote a scathing letter to the airline naming the agent and portraying her as incompetent, rude, and insulting.

The letter made its way up the chain of command until it landed on Herb's desk. He personally investigated the incident including talking to the agent herself.

Once he had gathered all the facts, he wrote a very nice letter to the complaining customer. Herb told us this story in an interview I did with him at Southwest many years ago, so I don't remember the exact wording pf the letter.

But in very polite terms, he said he'd personally investigated the matter, and he appologized for the woman having had such a distressing experience at Southwest. Then he said that in the future, he and his airline would greatly appreciate it if she took her business elsewhere.

This story spread around the airline like wildfire, and you can imagine the positive effect it had on employee morale.

BUT..... that was then and this is now. Ron brings up an excellent albeit unfortunate point. And that is that anyone today has the power to severely damage if not destroy a business simply by sitting at his or her keyboard. I have heard a few local news stories recently about the devastating effect bad reviews on internet services like Yelp have had on busiensses, particulary smaller businesses.

I have read recently of the increasing number of busiensses--- restaurants I think--- which refuse to partcipate in star ratings because of the potential for attracting bogus bad reviews.

The internet can be a great source of information. But with that comes the very real potential for destructive information because there is no way to know what's true and what's not.

Repeat customers may recognize bad reviews of the business they are patronizing as bogus. But most people won't, and there is still this inherent belief on the part of most people that "if I read it in print it must be true."

And with no penalties for posting untrue information that has devastating effects on people or organizations, any idiot with a keyboard and a connection can achieve results far, far out of proportion to his or her own signficance.
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:40 PM   #14
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I think we are even past the "bogus" or "personalized" reviews on the internet for the most part.

More people have become accustomed to wading through the trash to get to the meat in whatever they do on the internet...

As I have posted before....there's a lot of smart people out there if we give them a chance.

The ones that aren't so smart...maybe good businesses really don't want them anyway as the potential for other issues runs with their ability to be truthful, honest or objective.
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Old 09-04-2014, 10:53 PM   #15
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And that is that anyone today has the power to severely damage if not destroy a business simply by sitting at his or her keyboard. I have heard a few local news stories recently about the devastating effect bad reviews on internet services like Yelp have had on busiensses, particulary smaller businesses.

I have read recently of the increasing number of busiensses--- restaurants I think--- which refuse to partcipate in star ratings because of the potential for attracting bogus bad reviews.
I'm in a pretty good position to comment on this specifically as it relates to marinas and boatyards. I'm in contact with 1-2 facility owners/managers every day complaining about reviews. At any one time, there are about 10 investigations open. I handle all of them.

A few facts at least as far as ActiveCaptain goes:

- The number of fake positive reviews dwarfs the number of fake negative reviews or reviews meant to "get even". We've removed fake positive reviews 10:1 over negative ones.

- Any website that cares about their data will investigate complaints of unfairness.

- No quality website will allow a reviewer to write a review with the specific intent of hurting a facility. Rants and crusades shouldn't be allowed. At least for us, we specifically talk about this in our Terms of Use and I have removed reviews that have violated this.

- No single review is ever going to cause a "devastating effect". But if 40% of them are negative? The problem isn't that people are writing about the negative experiences. The problem is that there are too many negative experiences. It's like the marina who complained to me that multiple reviews wrote about how dirty their bathrooms were. "So are they dirty?" I asked. "Well, yeah, but I don't want anyone to know." Sorry, that doesn't cut it any more.

- Review systems should provide information to the reader about the review writer. We never show a review without the number of "points" the reviewer has earned in ActiveCaptain as a way of showing how involved they are. If you see a negative review from a boater with 10 points, that shouldn't hold as much weight as a review from someone with 500 points. Nothing like that is perfect, but it gives a little more info to allow the reader to determine truth.

- The facilities, "restaurants" in the example quoted above, don't get the choice of being involved or not in star ratings. I'm personally threatened a few dozen times a month with legal action from marinas who want their listing removed from ActiveCaptain. We've never removed any facility unless they were no longer in business. We will never back down from that type of bully technique even if it involves real legal action. Some of that has cost us thousands of dollars so far but in every case, we haven't changed a thing and we've prevailed legally. There is tremendous case law about all of this including some specific federal laws specifically protecting websites from attack. Imagine how often deep-pocketed Amazon would get sued otherwise.


There are a lot of misconceptions about reviews and to be fair, there are some review sites designed to be unfair to businesses (ripoffreport.com, I'm talking to you). Done with care, there is tremendous value to the consumer and the facility. And it ain't going away.
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Old 09-05-2014, 12:14 AM   #16
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There have been several recent stories in the news locally about businesses that have either suffered a signficant loss of business or in at least one case been forced to close because of unfavorable Yelp reviews. The media investigations showed that a large number of the negative reviews were written either out of spite against the business owners or were simply "target of opportunity" reviews. Most of the claims being made against the businesses proved to be totally false, but the damage was done.

Perhaps Yelp does not monitor reviews as closely as you do, Jeff, for your enterprises, I don't know. But I have also heard from friends in Europe (Italy and France) connected with the tourist industry that there is a growing fear of what review sites like Yelp can do to a business.

It was from here that I was told about the refusal of some restaurants (in Europe) to engage in the star rating system. By which I mean Michelin star, not an internet site star or point rating system. There have apparently been hacker or mole programs created that will search out Michelin star ratings of hotels and restaurants and automaticlaly post generic negative reviews. Simple reviews like "Terrible food," or "I'll never stay here again."
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Old 09-05-2014, 01:22 AM   #17
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I read Yelp reviews before trying a new place. I have posted half a dozen Yelp reviews. I only write a review when I really like a place. I don't like to write negative reviews. You can catch a waiter or store staff on a bad day. I wrote a sparkling review about a local jeweler who jumped through hoops to get me a beautiful gift for my wife. Yelp didn't post the review because I hadn't written enough negative reviews! Dirtbags!
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Old 09-05-2014, 07:16 AM   #18
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A couple more things:

- No set of one line, "this place is terrible" reviews are going to put any business out of business. I have more faith in the reading, consumer population to see through reviews like that.

- There is no doubt that businesses have had economic loss with bad reviews being published about them. Again though, is that because of the reviews or because of the "quality" of the business being reported?

- Let there be fear because of review sites. That's a good thing. I've witnessed many marinas who get a few negative reviews and call us, not to complain, but to help them understand how to become better. There are some wonderful examples of marinas averaging under 3 stars who saw the light and turned things around. One in particular now averages over 4 stars. Their business doubled because of their changes. That's good for them and good for all of us. We don't need businesses that consistently rate at the "2- star" level.

- I can't imagine a site not posting a review because the writer hadn't written enough negative reviews. Code I wrote flags someone who signs up and then immediately writes a very negative review - that's generally someone trying to "get even" which isn't right. Even then, we post the review and then evaluate it. I definitely can't speak for Yelp, Trip Advisor, Urban Spoon, etc. but it's something they're all concerned about.
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Old 09-05-2014, 07:48 AM   #19
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I see it similar to the posts here...most people know to do a little research and/or get a feeling for what is being posted.

Only a few preach how most stuff is garbage but their posts are diamonds....most know to read around the corners...so everyone keeps on posting and gets support here and there as much as the negative....

Just like small businesses...I usually see a "contrary" report if one before it seems to be negative in the extreme.
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Old 09-05-2014, 08:17 AM   #20
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Yelp just yesterday won a major court case that was trying to prove that they were trying to extort money from businesses by not posting positive reviews unless the business paid for advertising. The plaintiff lost only because the definition of extortion was not met. There seemed to be a conclusion that yes they do suppress the positive reviews for the non-payin businesses. Last I checked my company had 16 glowing reviews. Every single one is buried under the words "16 reviews that are currently not recommended". The link is un-highlighted and is nearly invisible. Yelp is an extortion racket and it is only a matter of time before the courts prove this. Do not click their site and in time they will disappear.
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