Is Every Customer a VIP | Graphic of Red Carpet

Is Every Customer Really a VIP? I’m Sorry But…

Readers of this blog know that we like to discuss customer service in the real world. What is this elusive real world? It is a place where customer service slogans like the customer is always right go to die.

Now, don’t get me wrong, shorthand slogans are great and are useful in conveying broad, important concepts quickly.

Whether it be in a twitter chat or a speech, a nugget like “every customer is a VIP” gets across a larger point about treating all customers well, regardless of the size of their account.

Is Every Customer a VIP | Graphic of Red CarpetBut is every customer truly a VIP?

Unfortunately, no, they are not.

In common usage, the term VIP means someone who is deserved of special treatment above and beyond what is typical — and, by definition, that is not everyone.

Why? Because in the real world organizations must operate with limited and often inadequate resources, and these resources must be allocated to the areas that will produce the greatest return.

Imagine that a person who has spent 2 million dollars with your company over the past 5 years and a person who has spent 10,000 dollars are both on hold. Both are both upset about something: which line do you pick up first?

If you said the 10,000 dollar account, that’s great; Mother Theresa would be proud. Now, please send send me your name, location, and industry, because I’m coming to town to grab a 2 million dollar account.

The reality is that some customers are more important to your business than others. This doesn’t mean that you value them more as human beings, but you do value their economic contribution to your organization more.

Treat every customer as an important person, in fact, a very important person, but just remember that some customers will always be more important than others. Knowing who those customers are can be essential to giving them the extra attention they require.

Want to know the real trick to making every customer a VIP? Simply give them service that is far above and beyond what they receive in your industry. They might not be one of your top customers, but they will still feel like it.

About 

By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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12 replies
  1. Bill Dorman
    Bill Dorman says:

    What about the customer who pays you over $2 mil in one year; oh yes, I definitely know who my A + B accounts are. I treat all my customers with respect, but there is pecking order. If I feel I can’t handle you to your expectations, I will initiate assisting finding you a new home. That’s just the way it is…

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Bill, that should be your sign off line for all comments… “that’s just the way it is.” And I’m with you, if you can’t deliver the level of service to certain accounts, it’s best to guide them to where they can find it.

      Reply
  2. Kat M
    Kat M says:

    I completely agree. As the film quote goes: “It’s not personal, it’s business”, and in business you often need to go where the money is, otherwise you don’t have a hope of surviving!

    If you start putting all customers first, they’re going to receive a second-class service and then customers will go elsewhere!

    Reply
    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Great point Kat! Our time and resources are limited; at some point, we have to choose where to spend them. Trying to spread them everywhere is a recipe for failure.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  3. Trish Voskovitch
    Trish Voskovitch says:

    The key is to make sure that every customer, no matter where they are in your internal pecking order, feels like the most important. No, you can’t always spend equal amounts of time catering to the needs of every single one of your customers, but it’s important to ensure that none of your customers feel like they are being shuffled around and forgotten.

    Reply
  4. Jeff Toister
    Jeff Toister says:

    Adam – your blog post turned out to be an excellent prediction. A day later, my wife experienced an epic service failure while flying United Airlines, but she was treated like a VIP due to her frequent flyer status. I referenced your post in one of my own about how my wife’s experience aligned with some surprising trends.

    Here’s a link:
    http://www.toistersolutions.com/blog/2013/1/3/a-service-failure-reveals-surprising-customer-service-trends.html

    Reply

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