Customer is Not the King, He is the Gift of the King


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July 26th, 2019, on Vietnam Airlines’ business class, a passenger who is a rich man in real estate sector, sexually harassed a woman sitting next to him. The captain of flight VN253 decided to refuse to serve the man, asked him to get off the plane. He responded: “Do you know who I am? Do you want me to call the big boss to fire you?”.

At the same time, there was another passenger sitting in the front seat, looking back, softly saying: “here is my phone, call anyone you want, I give 5 minutes”. The real estate man realized the other man who actually is one of the VIPs in the government, and that was probably like a very strong antidote to his alcohol ijn blood status, making him totally awake. He then signed the required document and got off the plane.

Less than a month later, another customer of the same Airlines continued to create an earthquake in public opinion. The customer, a woman working as a policewoman, insulted the airlines staffs. In a video recorded and broadcasted on social media. This customer had many unaceptable actions and words that intentionally insulted the employees.

When consulting and training customer experience management, I have conveyed many beautiful stories in dealing with customers from leading CX companies with wholely hearted caring. Therefore, In business community in the country, many folks have been seeing me as person who always stands on the side of customers, speaking up and protecting the interests of customers; as I usually praise companies that bring joy to customers, condemn and criticize companies that deceive and treat customers badly.

However, that doesn’t mean I blindly protect any customer. There are customers who don’t deserve it, it is rare as almost of all customers are good, but we do have some. Per my experience, there is less than one percent of customer who are culturally bad, and you have to deal with or you could never make them satisfied, no matter how hard you try.

My words for whom who are customers, we are all customers sometimes anyways, I believe, the customer also contributes to the experience of a provider – customer relation. The quality of a transaction or conversation is not determined solely by one party. So as customer we are also responsible for a star out of the five stars of customer experience standard per se. Excellent service quality is partly contributed by customers.

When I emphasize customer centricity as a must to create a superior customer experience company, don’t guest me wrong and perceive that I mean we have to follow customer totally. That is not true. Don’t misunderstand that customer-centricity means we have to follow every request from customer blindly, you always have the right to say “NO” to bad customers. But again bad customer, I mean here, is customer who have immoral hebaviors. I don’t mean the demanding customer or even some customers who have rediculous request. Unreasonble customer is still our customer but immoral customer is not.

As saying “customer is the King” become lip service in many company or wrongly interpreted. I would replace that by another saying for better practice as my consulting experience. Customer is not the king or god, I treat customer as the gift of the King, not the King. In this article, I would like to share some important notes for how to handle the worse behavior customers:

1. Sincere but be fair:

Good commercial relationships need clarity and fairness. If these flight attendants do not follow the rules, they can affect flight safety and the comfort of other passengers. Fostering unethical attitudes is not the right thing to do. You have to do the right thing to customer, but the other customers as well.

Customer experience management is about making the organization smarter in its decisions, not complying any customer. Plus, doing customer experience is about focusing on the things that are valuable to prioritize. Bowing to an immoral behavior is not a value to prioritize.

2. Immorally, badly behaved customers… are not your customers:

When you help a good customer in need, you are respected and liked by all other people. When you help or cover up a bad customer, you are being unfair to other customers.

3. Remember that you also contribute to the culture of customer behaviors in your industry and your society.

4. Protect employees and behave appropriately against bad customers; allows employees to reject bad customers and trust the employee’s ability to judge.

5. Customer is not the King. Customer is a gift from the King. When you receive him, you must appreciate him. But because he is a gift, you have the right to refuse him just like not accepting the gift.

Duong Nguyen, Master, CCXP
Duong Nguyen, Author, Customer Experience Transformist. First CCXP in Vietnam, Founder of Cempartner, Consulting and Coaching CX in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Formerly, He was Country Director for Singapore Telecommunications, Regional Manager for iBasis Inc USA, Strategy Team Head of Viettel telecom. He is a passionate CX thought leader, and have shared hundreds articles of insights and practices in customer experience and, customer - centric culture to business community


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