Customer is king!

At 6.40 pm, I decided to leave for home. I closed the last file and shut down my PC, switched off the fans and lights, locked the door of the Sales & Service Department, and walked into the corridor.

Raj had locked the door of the Commercial Department just then, and we walked towards the lift.

Just as we reached the lift, we were enveloped in total darkness. When the lights didn’t come on after about half a minute, I remembered that the generator had had a breakdown the previous afternoon and was expected to be repaired only the next day.

Both Raj and I knew it was hazardous to walk down the stairs as some of the offices on the lower floors used the staircase to store the cartons containing their samples. We decided to wait till the electricity supply was restored.

“How was your trip to the Branch? Did you manage to collect all the outstanding payments?” I asked Raj.

“I managed to collect all outstanding payments, except for Victory Industries. Not only did the Proprietor flatly refuse to release the outstanding payment, he used the filthiest possible language against me,” Raj replied.

“What did our Branch Manager have to say about this?” I asked.

Raj replied, “This customer is expected to order 4 new machines a few months from now. The Branch Manager asked me to take it easy, and asked me to report that the Proprietor told me that they will look into this outstanding payment after they complete arranging the finance for the company’s expansion.”

“I think you should report the truth, including the fact that the customer used abusive language,” I said.

Raj thought for a few seconds, and replied, “You are correct. The Branch Manager won’t like it. Worse, our Managing Director will be upset if he learns about this. But I have no choice. I’m on leave for 2 days. I’ll submit my report when I return to work on Monday.”

Since the electricity supply had not yet been restored, we decided to walk down slowly and carefully down the stairs.

Raj returned to work on Monday. At about 11.00 am, the Managing Director called me on the intercom and requested me to meet him immediately. A few seconds after I entered the MD’s room, Raj also entered. As soon as we were seated, the MD said, “Gentlemen, I overheard your entire conversation on Thursday evening. You didn’t know it because it was dark, but I was seated in the Reception. That night, I told our Branch Manager that I know about this incident, and instructed him to tell the Proprietor of Victory Industries that, if he does not apologise unconditionally to Raj in writing within 3 days, our company would file a criminal complaint against him. Here is the customer’s apology letter.”

He handed a letter to Raj, and continued, “I have given them some time to release the payment. I am willing to accept a delay in payment, I am prepared to lose his next order for 4 machines, but I will never tolerate anybody misbehaving with my employees. The customer is king, but we are not his slaves!”

This post, based on a true incident, is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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14 thoughts on “Customer is king!

  1. When I read your posts, I’m struck by the inherent integrity that exists in the human condition. We are so used to dismissing situations when they don’t conform to our expectations, that reading about this proactive approach of yours is heartwarming.

  2. As the owner of a servicing firm, this kind of problem happened to my application engineer.
    At that time, I didn’t know how to react. But now I understood how to..

    • In all fairness, the customer was a small company, while the supplier was a big, well-established company, that’s why the customer apologized immediately. If the customer was the bigger company, the result might have been different.
      In any case, the point here is the MD showed by his action that he genuinely cares for the dignity of his employees.

  3. Words taken out of my mouth: “The customer is King ……. but we are not his slaves.” Very often, the customer thinks it’s his birthright to ride roughshod over a junior. But when faced with an equal or senior who is straightforward & honest they crumble like a pack of cards.
    The true nature of a person is noticed by how he treats his juniors & not his equals or seniors.

  4. True story?? Wow! I mean if bosses were like this, going to work would feel so great. Luckily, I have an amazing manager who always takes care of his team and supports us when things go wrong. We learn how to be human at work from him. After all, it’s not always money money money right? It’s the ground level working people who get in the money.
    Very simple point understood by very few.

    • The part about the MD threatening legal action if the customer did not apologize in writing, and the customer apologizing in writing, is true. (The part about the lift, power cut, etc. is fiction.)
      Employee satisfaction/delight is a prerequisite for customer satisfaction/delight.

  5. Pingback: Anything Goes on Sunday 7 : Grace - Everyday Gyaan

    • Such bosses were pretty common till some years back. I’ve been lucky to have had quite a few such bosses. They’ve inspired me to try to be a similar kind of boss.

      I think that, over the last few years, job security of managers has come down, so the first priority of managers is to protect their own interests.

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