Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sometimes Customers SUCK

I've been in the software consulting and packed programs business for over 20 years now - and sometimes it still just pisses me off to no end when I have to cross paths with pathetic "people" that happen to buy my services/software.

Let me be clear - in the main - I generally LOVE customers. They keep business going, most of them are downright pleasant, and some are really just a pleasure to know as people. Then there are the very few (thankfully!) that are just a waste of space. I call them the "consumers."

These are people that, no matter what, expect the world and every product and service, every computer, every OS, every piece of software, every phone system - basically everything - to work exactly the way THEY think it should.

100% of the time. No exceptions.

These people make gross assumptions (and LOUDLY) based on their ignorance - usually in very public ways. They take a position that is totally un-informed or just plain stupid and then bitch about it. They rarely bother to experiment, try things, or even worse - RTFM (Read The Fu**ing Manual).

They are experts at using inflammatory and sarcastic language and usually always blame the software or hardware or OS or the dev team or _________ (fill in the blank) for things that they don't understand. 99% of the time it is their own fault something doesn't work, or didn't work - but they are the first ones to flame lists, report "terrible bugs" in the underlying software (or software solution).

Then, when someone helps them - and fixes their problem, or points out where to look in the manual, or gives them sample code - they STILL BITCH ABOUT IT. Rather than saying "Thanks for your help" - they say things like "...well, the program shouldn't allow me to make that mistake..." or "...I don't know how ANYONE would be think of that...", etc.

But it doesn't stop there. These are also the same exact people who will try to "grind" you on price, expect instant answering of all email, get pissed off when they can't reach someone on the phone the instant they call, and often have their credit cards declined (or are slow to pay).

Sometimes they go even further - and will kindly send an email notifying you of the 26 misplaced semi-colons and passive verbs in your documentation - and they will always find 5-10 tiny, tiny inconsistencies in manual screen shots or online tutorials and then will proceed to say that a company is "unprofessional" for "serious omissions in functionality", etc. etc.

Luckily, I have dealt with this type of person enough in my career to recognize that for these people change is painful. So, I gently remind them that any kind of change can be difficult and learning new things takes time and effort and a bit of frustration. If that doesn't work - I to do one of three things:

  1. If they are a profitable customer - let someone else assist them - someone with a lot higher sh*t tolerance than I do; OR
  2. Suggest they continue to use whatever it is they are currently using - since making the change to something new is obviously too difficult for them; OR
  3. "Fire" them as a customer.

Sometimes just saying "Sorry, we really don't want your business" is the best way to go. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I can usually feel my blood pressure drop and my urge to go home, kick the dog and drink heavily magically disappears.

OK, so maybe not the drinking part...

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