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Tangent: “Good” Customers

February 15, 2012

In my line of work, I’m often approached by someone who starts off a tirade by saying “I’m a good customer.” This is when I know I’m in trouble. When the person announces themself as a “really good” customer, it’s just that much worse. And when I’m in the presence of an “excellent” customer, I just give up immediately.

Here is how these people typically define “good”:

Rich. As in “I’m a good customer. I spend over $300 a week here.” Gosh, that’s great that you have all that money. Perhaps you should spend some on therapy instead of railing against me every time our chicken wings aren’t to your liking.

Bored. As in “I’m a good customer. I’ve read everything there is to read about your company.” Really? You’ve read everything? If you have that much free time, I could really use a hand with some stuff out back. Unlike you, I don’t have an hour to listen to someone whine about how they disagree with our CEO’s philosophy on white sugar.

-Well-Educated. As in “I’m a good customer. I went to Harvard.” I could seriously give a shit. Normally,  I don’t swear on this blog, but this one really gets me. I’m well-educated too. But you don’t hear me throwing it in your face every time I want a gift card or a free muffin.

Altruistic. As in “I’m a good customer, and I need to bring something to your attention.” Usually what this person is bringing to my attention is that “that guy who works in Grocery doesn’t speak English, he can’t understand me and now I need your help to find my tortilla chips.” False. That gentleman’s name is Mike, and he’s just quiet. He’s quite smart, he speaks perfect English, and if you actually took a second to listen, you’d know that. But instead, you’ve made yourself look like a racist ass. Have a great day!

Generally Superior to Me in Every Way. As in “I’m a good customer. I used to work in engineering/psychology/air travel [insert any profession with more cache than retail] and you are doing things [insert anything and everything] wrong here.  I will now tell you how to do your job.” The amount of engineers who have taken precious time out of their days to share with me their long career history and chastise me for being an idiot (and, no doubt, a woman) is simply astounding. I should send all of them a thank you note for trying to put some semblance of order into my otherwise floundering organization. I could just cry for all the good these people try to do in the world. [Read: F Off.]

Here is how I define a “good” customer:

-Kind.  Someone who treats my staff well, and who sticks up for my staff when someone else is treating them badly. (These people, I love. I will shower these people with gifts when I see them in the act.) Someone who lets the customer with 1 item go ahead of them and their overflowing cart.
Considerate. Someone who makes an effort to help clean up the blueberries they spill all over the cart, or the soup their kids threw all over the floor.  Or, at the very least, apologizes for leaving a mess.
Conscientious. Someone who nicely brings important things to my attention. As in “Your clerk gave me turkey bologna instead of turkey salami, and I’m allergic to bologna.” Allergies are important, and I appreciate you telling me, especially because you did not end by saying “…and I think your clerk is retarded/foreign/generally stupid.” We all make mistakes.

If you ever want to start a conversation like this, first stop and figure out if you really are a good customer.  And if you’re not a good customer, just remember: You are not faceless.

If you throw a fit, I will remember you.
If you make someone on my staff cry, I will remember you.
If you make me cry (later, in private, in the dark), I will hate you. And remember you.
And the next time you try to tell me that you are a good customer, I will turn around and walk away.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. labs permalink
    February 15, 2012 9:04 am

    This is my style of post! Good work.

    The bar gets a lot of these types but its usually centered around, “do you know who I am?”

    One time a guy was trashing my manager and he just stopped him and said, “Wait dude, I think you should just skip to the part where you tell me how important you are!”

    It was classic.

    • bestthingslicedbread permalink*
      February 15, 2012 10:19 pm

      love it! wish i’d been there to see it. i know, this is a very labs-inspired rant.

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