Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Consumers and Customers...

Perhaps one of the things that annoys me the most about businesses today is that they no longer have a concept (or at least most do not have a concept) any more of a customer. They view everyone as a consumer. It's bad enough that it is not just business any more, but culture itself. We've convinced ourselves that we are not anyone's customers, so much as we are consumers of goods. As a result we try to consume as much as we can, without giving thought to whether we really need to do so.

In truth, we are customers and we deserve to be treated as such. When customers are viewed simply as consumers, they are treated poorly. More importantly, they are made to believe the "more for less is better" - which is true for consumers, but not necessarily for customers.

For example, let's look at a restaurant. If a restaurant views their customers as consumers, then they will try to stuff as much into their meal as possible - regardless of its impact on the customer. This, in part, leads to customers overeating, gaining weight, and ultimately health problems. However, if a restaurant views their customers as customers, then they will serve a meal that is properly proportioned and ultimately healthy - it won't be too much, or too little.

Some simply argue that it is market forces at work. However, that is pure BS. Yes, if customers demanded to be customers instead of consumers some businesses will listen. However, customers are ingrained with this idea not entirely from the market - but also from education - specifically the economics classes and instruction.

Economists take the view of customers as consumers because it is easy for their subject to view it as such; just like they view businesses as producers. While this view has limited benefits in the subject, it has a lot more devestating impact on society at large, as society takes on the view and ultimately kills itself and everything around it trying to live up to it.

Please, treat us all - people and businesses alike - with the respect we deserve. We are customers. Yes, we do 'consume' a certain amount of goods, and we need to restrain ourselves as well, but we desire the respect of being a customer.

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