It’s Bad When We Turn Away Customers, Very Bad

Customers are the lifeblood of our businesses. If we don’t have customers, our businesses die; it’s that simple. 

Yet, many of us who are business owners turn away customers for any number of reasons. 

Sometimes, the reasons are due to the limits our businesses have.  Restaurants turn away customers because they have no more tables to spare.  Movie theatres run out of seats for the next scheduled cinema showing.  There are no more items to sell; the shop has run out. 

Turning away customers, for whatever reason, is a tragedy.  Any customer we don’t serve or whose need or want we don’t fulfil is not only a lost opportunity but also potential for the prospect of lost revenue in the future.

Some corporations, however, wouldn’t agree.  Utility companies, like those who supply electricity and water, would never lose their customers especially if the utility company holds a monopoly in the market it serves.  Customers have to live with whatever service the utility company provides unless the customers want to live by candlelight or without running water. 

Some business enterprises who have captured the lion’s share of their markets believe they can sacrifice customers.  Executives of these enterprises won’t hesitate to shed a few customers if they can still meet financial wealth targets or if they are confident their competitors won’t be able to capitalise on any unserved customers. 

And there are many customers who would wait and hope to still buy even after being turned away.  This applies especially for items that are highly sought after.  The new Apple iPhone, the brand-new Ferrari model, and the new Airbus plane come to mind as examples.  But it also could be the limited supply of grade AAA chicken eggs that arrives only once a week at the neighbourhood grocery store or the antiviral drug our doctor prescribed us to take against a coronavirus infection.  We would wait if we need them or want them badly.

This is perhaps why banks don’t really care if their clients wait too long in line for teller transactions or if they insist clients submit so many requirements and sign so many forms.  Clients won’t go away because they need their banks to transact their funds; the red tape that comes with banking is an inconvenience clients just have to live with. 

But this is also why the spirit of entrepreneurship is strong.  Innovative start-up owners find ways to break through the barriers and snag the customers that traditional businesses turn away. 

Can’t buy the needed item at the supermarket?  There’s the grocery e-commerce website to order what we need and have it delivered the next day. 

Can’t book the reservation at the restaurant?  We can order take-out from the restaurant via a food courier.  Or we can book with another restaurant that food critics on our mobile web app say is just as good or even better. 

We can open our accounts with banks who offer more banking hours and better, more user-friendly, online services. 

We also can opt for web voice & messaging services and reduce the use of our mobile phone company’s traditional voice & SMS to save on our subscription bills. 

We can also opt for solar powered roof panels to power our homes and cut oue electric bills by as much as 30%.  The more the utility company raises its rates, the more viable we can opt for upgrades to renewable solar power battery storage that could cut our dependence by up to 70%. 

When we take our customers for granted, we are bound to lose them and the ones that we think are loyal to us. 

If we must make our customers wait, let’s make sure we at least deliver based on the promises we made to them. 

Customers are our lifeblood.  We may not need all of them but turning away even just a few of them is a tragedy.  It may not seem like a high price to pay at first but if we make it the norm rather than the exception, we may lose more, if not all of them, to someone else who would eventually figure out a way to serve them better than we do. 

About Ellery’s Essays

Published by Ellery

Since I started blogging in 2019, I've written personal insights about supply chains, operations management, & industrial engineering. I have also delved in topics that cover how we deal with people, property, and service providers. My mission is to boost productivity via offering solutions and ideas. If you like what I write or disagree with what I say, feel free to like, dislike, comment, or if you have a lengthy discourse, email me at ; I'm also on LinkedIn:

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