Customer feedback is extremely important in understanding how you are delivering your product, but it’s also essential to be able to sift through those comments to discern the difference between personal preference and a legitimate beef.

If you own a business, and do not have a plan to garner customer feedback, all you need to do is a Google search of your company’s name and see if there is anything out there in cyberspace written about you of which you were unaware. There are a handful of sites I monitor regularly and use with my staff to address issues that might go undetected.

As much as I hate to read them, when I come across feedback that says our service was not commensurate with the quality of our food, I need to take these very seriously. Instead of getting defensive, I must listen for the truth in the statements, or else I let a matter go unaddressed that could have further damaging effects than one unhappy customer.

Dealing with the customer is a dynamic, subjective experience. You might have the most extensive customer service manual ever written and there will always be that guy who is one of a kind that breaks the mold and leaves you asking, “How do I handle this one?”

What folks think about price is one such factor. One man’s gouging is another man’s bargain. Location, local economics and community perception all play into what people think about how much you are charging for your product. But in the Free Market, Supply and Demand still works. If people demand it, you can supply it, and charge whatever you want for it. Have you noticed how much it costs to go to a concert or professional sporting event these days? Pull out your 1979 ticket stub to the Pink Floyd show that changed your life. The difference in price might amaze you, and you’ll realize how old you are.

When people complain that I charge too much for my food, I just let that one roll off like sweat off a line cook’s brow. I know how much local food costs, I know much I pay my employees, and I know how much my light bill is each month. I think I’m charging a pretty fair price for the product I offer.

So yesterday, a guy comes in, and after looking over the menu, begins to bend Karen’s ear about how expensive everything is. In her recollection of the story, he goes on and on and on, to the point of becoming unreasonable. In her endearing way, she eventually leaned toward the man and said, “You know, the dining room’s full, and people here seem pretty happy…maybe I should redirect you to another location.”

He stayed for lunch.

And it seemed like he had a decent experience.

How to Fire a Customer

2 thoughts on “How to Fire a Customer

  • September 3, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    So very true. I often tell my friends that I am willing to pay more for quality, ethical items/food. I may pay 1 or 2 dollars more for my coffee every week, but I sleep better at night knowing the farmers are paid well and the coffee legitimately tastes better. Same is true for local food and products. It is almost always true that you get what you pay for.

  • September 8, 2010 at 5:29 am

    Congratulations on her quick wit. It sounds like it was not an "I should have said 'this' moment". There is no compromise in one's vision.

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