Today’s post comes courtesy of Brian Johnson, COO of Strategic Profits, golf enthusiast and single-digit handicapper.
So when is it ok to piss-off your customers?
I can hear all of you now; “What do you mean? the customer is King!” or “The customer is always right”. Well, I have an answer for that in a moment.
As I am writing this, I am sitting in the Phoenix airport just a day after playing golf at the TPC (Tournament Players Club) in Scottsdale Arizona. And, I am reflecting on a run-in I had with staff there while I was playing…
Before I start, understand that this is a course that any great golfer would love to play. They sometimes charge over $350.00 per round to play and it is part of the club that the PGA professional golfers own. In fact, this is one of the PGA tour stops (Tiger Woods had a hole-in-one here a few years ago).
So, picture this; for weeks now I have been all excited to fly out here to play this course. I have been talking to everyone about going. I get here, check into the hotel, pay hundreds of dollars for my cart and greens fee, buy my TPC hat and all proud to wear it, buy brand new fresh balls new glove, get some drinks, head to the driving range, meet my friends that I am playing with, and get all jacked up to tee off in 15 minutes. AAAHHHHHHH
“We now invite Mr. Brian Johnson and guests to the first tee”… comes over the loud speakers while we are getting warmed up on the driving range. All excited I say “let’s go guys, time to have some fun” We jump on the carts and speed up to the first tee where the starter is awaiting for us. He greets us and gives us some background on the day and welcomes us to the first tee. Things are great. The weather is beautiful. I am hanging with good friends, and we shake hands and say have a good time guys. The day begins.
Jon Walker tees off and puts it in the middle, Aaron from InfusionSoft hits a great one in the faraway and I put one on the left side. And we are off…
We get no further than the third tee where we were met by a ranger waiting for us. In a militant voice he says; “OK guys, you need to move it along, there are two holes in front of you and you have to rush through and catch up.”
WOW. What the heck just happened?
I was no longer excited, and the guests I was with were just as mystified as I was. The day was going well so I simply responded with an friendly; “OK, no problem” and we do our best to keep things going.
As a side note, we are all avid golfers and no slouches. We were only a 3-some and playing at a pretty quick speed. If you know golf, you know that you want to be courteous to people behind you and not hold them up. However there was not anyone behind us, we were not holding anyone up AND there was space in-between the group in front of us when we started to play in the first place.
It was just their “rule” that you should play at the speed that they (the non customer) feels you should play. It’s a lot like going to a fine restaurant and placing your order. Then they bring your appetizers and then immediately 5 minutes later bring you the main course. Then 5 minutes later come to you and say “Listen you can’t be here all night and we need the table for someone else, you should be able to eat in 15 minutes” How irate would you be?
Fast forward to two holes later. We now have gone through each hole putting without even taking the flag stick out of the hole, did not get a drink when the snack cart came around so we could try to catch up (which during summer in Arizona is not the best idea), ran back and forth to the cart and made up some time while we DID NOT enjoy the golf.
So we get to the tee at the 6th hole and the same ranger is there and says “let’s go guys, you need to hustle” at which point I was at a boiling point and said to him “Listen, we are not holding anyone up, no one has complained about us and there was already space between us when we started” His response was; “If you don’t like it you will be missing golf and I will move you into position where I think you should be”.
My response (in a manner that is unlike my collected self) was “@%#! THIS!” I just spent hundreds of dollars to play here, traveled across the country and have been looking forward to this for a while. Needless to say, I did not enjoy any more of the day and my opinion of the place went in the tank. I can’t even remember most of the golf I played. I felt violated, ripped off, scorned, and totally deflated. The guests I was with were even more upset than I was.
This Ranger does not know me at all, my golf experience or golf etiquette and still he is dismissing me? That’s crazy and customers should never be treated like that.
Ok, on the flip side I put my business founder hat on. I am thinking that they do this with the intention of taking care of all customers and not just one. Should they piss off one client in the spirit of keeping the other clients happy? Keep in mind we were NOT a hindrance to anyone and the Ranger was “Just following the rules put in place for all customers.” You have to have some rules or policies in place to handle situations where some clients will hurt others.
I can say that even here at Strategic Profits I am very protective of our company and anyone trying to take advantage (in my view) will have a hard time with me. Notice I said “in my view?” The client might not feel that way. But if I break the rules for one client it might snowball into many clients and now I have hurt the company as a whole, which in turn hurts all clients.
So the big question is; if the customer is always right… are they always right for YOUR company? This is a question that Spike Humer at Jay Abraham’s office brought up to me when I was telling him this story, and one that I want you to think about today.
It’s truly an interesting dilemma that company owners and founders need to deal with on a consistent basis. What you do, how you handle or not handle or how effective you resolve issues like this can make or break the company you founded.
I am interested in hearing what you would do if you were the owner, manager or founder of this golf club. Please post a comment and let me know. I will tell you what we would have done after we hear from you. Also, I look forward to us helping you with more of these types of issues so that you can avoid costly pitfalls in your company’s future success.
Post a comment, and let us know how YOU feel about this.
To Higher Profits,