Sprint cut 1000 customers today, notifying them my mail that their contracts with the company would be discontinued:
Hundreds of cell phone customers are being given the boot, accused of being too high maintenance.Whatever happened to "the customer is never wrong"? People ask that until they work in customer service or own a business. There are some customers who are just wrong. There are some employees who are just wrong. And companies who unload the wrong have a lot more energy to expend on the positive.
Sprint-Nextel is disconnecting more than 1,000 subscribers on grounds the clients call customer service too often and make "unreasonable requests."
G.E. under Chairman Jack Welch had a notorious policy of firing the bottom 10% of the company every year. The idea has a flaw, of course. Some managers hired much better people and were forced to eliminate good people, while other bad managers only had to remove 10% of their bad decisions.
A mentor of Steve and I, freaked his practice management consultant out when he summarily fired over 10% of his patients (doctors have a way to do this without abandoning them). There were people he wasn't helping, or didn't connect with, or who he dreaded seeing come to his office because they complained for the sake of it, or refused to consider, much less take, his advice, so he fired them. He said it was the most liberating decision in practice he ever made. His practice took off after that.
Why would firing be so helpful? Well, everyone knows the 80-20 rule: 80% of the people do 20% of the work. The opposite is also true: 20% of the people require 80% of the attention and, that, my friends, is a business killer. Not to mention, it's a kill joy generally.
My doctor friend came to dread the days when Ms. Poopypants had an appointment. Managers with Mr. High Maintenance spend their time reassuring instead of executing. Customer Service reps quarreling with Sir Difficult find themselves growling with everyone else.
In addition to the attitude problems, there's just time. The 20% consume so much time that could be used in other productive ways. So, it can be a very good business and emotional decision to fire the complainers. You'll be healthier and wealthier. Best of all, the unhappy customer can find a better fit and find peace somewhere else.
UPDATE: Seth Godin's first reaction was the same as mine. And, like me (but in a much bigger scale) his readership balked. His second reactions was this:
Before you start firing customers, you better be committed to satisfying the rest of your customers. The giant flaw in Sprint's logic, as many readers have pointed out, is that plenty (almost half) of their customers don't like them. Getting rid of a nasty group of 1,000 isn't going to change that very much.
First job: get serious about customer satisfaction.