The Worst Kind of Customer

My small curriculum publishing company sells about 1500 orders per year. Every now and then we will get an irate customer, and I got a doozy last week. Though the odds are definitely in my favor and I should be proud of how satisfied my customers are, upset customers bother me. Allow me to explain.

The kind of customer that bothers you is revealing.

The kind of customer that bothers you is revealing.

When customers are upset, it reflects a failure on my part. Something wasn’t clear enough, easy enough, simple enough. This customer last week misunderstood what was in a curriculum product (she thought she was getting $500 worth of materials for $60), and wrote me a lengthy email explaining how I was dishonest, unprofessional and (she quoted scripture) a poor representation of Jesus.

I had a short, unproductive pouting session with my wife. But you know what? This allowed me to reflect on the kind of customer that is actually bad for me and my business. It isn’t the irate, can-never-be-satisfied customer. I should do what I can to attempt a remedy for the problem, but move on from there. There are plenty of other satisfied customers to tend to.

Here’s the customer that should bother me more: the mom who stares at me with glossy eyes. Speech and debate is totally foreign to her. She doesn’t catch the vision at all. “No, thank you,” is her passive response. She resolves to never encourage her kids to stand in front of an audience and speak. She resigns herself from speech and debate, thinking what’s fine for Chris Jeub’s kids is not fine for her own.

This is the worst kind of customer. They walk away from my sales pitch and ignore the most exciting and valuable community available to her and her family.

Yesterday’s Seth Godin blog reminded me of this perspective, and in a way, Jeub’s Guide to Speech & Debate addresses this perspective. The $20 book is actually pretty thin and can be read within a couple hours, but it’s entire purpose is to empower the moms out there in three productive ways:

  1. It casts the vision.
    When I sell one of my books in person at conferences or tournaments, I tell them to read the first and last chapters to get the idea. The “idea” is really the vision. Readers will capture the importance of “training minds for action” in these chapters and, hopefully, be resolved to learn what’s in between.
  2. It lays out the opportunities.
    I speak to four audience groups (students, parents, teachers, administrators) choosing three different forms of education (home, private, public) in three different leagues (NCFCA, Stoa, NFL). No other speech and debate manual is as comprehensive. I lay out the advantages and disadvantages of each in an honest way so that student education can be properly directed. Easy!
  3. It provides the curriculum.
    This is brand new to the 5th edition: a 7-lesson curriculum for the book’s subtitle, “Mastering the Competitive Culture of the Forensic Sport.” It’s free for all owners. This may have been the missing link of previous editions, so I’m pumped about how the curriculum will empower the teachers.

I call Jeub’s Guide  my “flag ship” publication. It sails ahead of the larger curriculum, community, and commitment that brings so much value to a young person’s educational development. Those that follow it are rewarded with a wealth of skills that last a lifetime.

I apologize, this blog post has turned into a sales pitch for my book. But you know what? I’m very proud of the book because it helps my customers “get it.” I’m glad I wrote it, and I’m glad people are responding favorably to it.

Did you order Jeub’s Guide? Please leave your response on its product page.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Brad Swygard

    Chris, good words. While other activities have value, and church related activities may have more value, forensics is the best educational choice parents can make. Nothing develops a students confidence, clarity ad critical thinking like forensics. It has been shown that this is often the tipping point in scholarship awards.(Luong 09) But more than that, we are people of the word and we should love words and use them beautifully like Naphtali.(Genesis 49:21) We worship the Word made flesh, so an understanding of and love for words should be a desire for Christians.

    • VERY well said, Brad. “Love for words should be a desire for Christians.” Spot on.

  • KatesDaddy

    Just for the sake of clarification… What IS in the curriculum product?