Don’t Blame the Customer

American Airlines filed for bankruptcy this week.  I live in an aviation community where many of my neighbors fly for American.  Needless to say, they are worried about their jobs and their pensions and they’re not very happy.   If you fly on American, you are likely to sense some of what the employees are feeling and while I empathize with their situation, it’s not the customer’s fault.

Like the airline industry, healthcare is dealing with economic and regulatory changes.  Restructuring that eliminates jobs and reduces compensation is common.  I know a lot of medical salespeople who are facing changes with their companies and their accounts that they are not happy with.  Some resign themselves to doing the minimum possible to get the job done.  They stop smiling.  They walk around like the world is coming to an end.

These medical sales mopes need to realize that they are jeopardizing their customer relationships.

Change is difficult and sometimes scary.   You might not feel like selling and delivering with enthusiasm after taking a hit to your wallet and ego, but if you don’t…the customer will feel it, either at a conscious or subconscious level.  And it could start to change the way they feel about doing business with you.

As a speaker, I spend a fair amount of time on airplanes.  I have several friends who are pilots and flight attendants on American.  I understand and empathize with their situation, but make no mistake…if I sense a decrease in friendliness and customer service, and I have the choice of another airline, I’m gone.  Why?  Because whatever the airline employees are experiencing and feeling, it’s not my fault.  It’s their job to get me from point A to point B safely and as pleasantly as possible so I can focus on my clients, not the bad day that they are having.

Customers love you when you make them feel valued and important.  They might empathize that you had your territory cut or that you lost part of your product line, but truthfully, they’ve got their own jobs to deal with and most will replace you in a New York minute.

The world is changing.  Don’t blame the customer.