It’s the Customer’s Problem


The downside of having ears, is that you’re subjected to thoughtless shit people say.

Today I had the pleasure of overhearing two guys sob over a problem they were having with a customer. They’re account reps at a nutritional manufacturing company. Their customer wanted to change labels on their packaging, which, apparently, would put them in jeopardy with the FDA. While the reps were well aware of the problem, the customer was clueless. However these guys’ ‘jobs’ were to sell. They’re not lawyers. They don’t work at the FDA. It’s not their responsibility to protect their customer. And the list of excuses goes on. In turn, genius #1 looks at genius #2 and says “It’s the customer’s problem.”

So let’s play this out. The customer, after spending tens or hundreds of thousands (or more) to produce this product with Genius Company, gets their product pulled from the shelves by the FDA, after a month in circulation. They’re also hit with significant fines, which they can’t cover as they spent all of their money on production and marketing. The customer, defeated, goes back to their account rep and bemoans, “Why didn’t you tell me the FDA would give me such a hard time when I requested this label change?”

The rep now has two replies he can deploy from his arsenal of Customer Service Best Practices:
1.  ”That’s not my job”
2. (a lie) “I had no idea”

Reply #1 tells the customer that their rep couldn’t give two shits about them or their business. End of relationship.
Reply #2 tells the customer that their rep is a moron. End of relationship.

But what if the rep tried? What if, instead, he said “Jim, we can change the label, but here are some potential repercussions you could be facing afterward…”

Worst case, the customer acknowledges your effort, tells you to shut up and demands you change the label. Best case, you’ve just earned a customer for life.