My dentist fired me and I think that's awesome: The customer is not always right.
Last Friday I called up my dentist to make a long overdue teeth cleaning appointment and I learned the hard way that the customer is not always right.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi, I’m calling to make a teeth-cleaning appointment
Dentist Office: What’s your name?
Dentist Office: Is this Tamara Kleinberg?
Me: Yes it is.
Dentist Office: Well Tamara it looks like you no-showed for your past three appointments.
Me: Could be, I know I had to cancel once for the flu.
Dentist Office: We show that you didn’t call to cancel the past three times so I’m hesitant to put you on the books.
Dentist Office: Given you’ve no showed three times I’m not willing to put you down and fill a spot that someone else might want.
Me: So, do you want me to find another dentist instead?
Dentist Office: Yes, I think that’s best. We'll mail your dental records today.
Me: Umm, well, ok, Thanks, I quess.
Yeah, I got fired by my dentist and I think that’s awesome. Maybe I should have been annoyed but the truth is, they were right.
We are often told in business to believe that the customer is always right but the truth is, that’s wrong. The customer is not always right. As business owners and service providers, we have rights too. And in this case, I'll own that I wasn't the best customer and that my dentist was totally right to fire me. I was high cost, low value and totally indifferent (until now).
When I think about it, I have no doubt their records are correct and that I didn’t show up three times in a row without any warning. I probably scheduled the appointment, let work get in the way and blew it off. What’s funny is that the entire experience did two things for me. First I actually have more respect for the dentist now. Good for them for firing a bad client. Second, I see how my indifference to their needs negatively impacted my own well being. Down the road, I’ll be sure not to do that again.
So, if you're a business owner, ask yourself, "Are my customers always right? Do I have high cost, low value clients who suck up my time and energy?" If the answer is yes, just remember: The same time and energy you put into low value clients could be going into high value clients who respect and appreciate what you do.
If you have clients like me, fire them. It will be the best thing you ever did.
If you're a business owner looking for an edge, visit Innovation 101, our collection of innovation tools and techniques designed to help you succeed.