Customers over Employees

Alex Kjerulf articulates why customers can’t always come first.

Let me get this straight: The company will side with petulant, unreasonable, angry, demanding customers instead of with me, its loyal employee? And this is meant to lead to better customer service?

Everyone says “put customers first.”  They pay the bills, they’re who the company exists to serve, they’re the ones who must be satisfied, in their hands rests word-of-mouth, the most powerful force of marketing.

But what about employees? The ones who you’d like to be motivated to serve these customers, day in and day out. Where do they fit in the customer service model? When it comes down to employee happiness versus customer happiness, what do you do? And yes, it can come down to it.
Some customers are so poisonous to your poor employees that it’s your duty to get rid of them.  Some you should wish on your competitors.  Sometimes the customer isn’t right.
Maybe 1% of your customers are problematic, but they’re a vocal and time-sucking and morale-draining 1%.  Is 1% more business worth it?


  • Look, let us be honest here. Every business owner has or has had problematic customers, sometimes so devious that they would deliberately try and get innocent employees into trouble. Identifying these creatures are usually not a difficult process at all, especially if it starts with the hair on the back of one’s neck rising the first time they walk in your door or you hear their voice….

    Against that little voice’s protestations we will ignore our sixth senses and still serve these people, only to be reminded later on why we should really trust our instincts when it comes to first impressions of clients. What can I say?

    • You’re right, we don’t trust our gut enough.