Cultivate Great Customers, Fire Your Failures

I hate advice to Fire your bad customers. I think that it misses the true point: Cultivate great customers, fire your failures. Because concentrating on failure can often stand in the way of success. And failure is often your fault as well as your customers.

Venky Ganesan writes approvingly of an Amazon venture to [suck] “profitable” customers away from Netflix by placing a cap on monthly rentals. I’m a bit sceptical myself:

  1. Never underestimate the lure of unlimited. We thought we could watch 8+ DVDs a month when we joined Netflix. The reality has become more like 5 or 6. How many customers are lured by the unprofitable and then settle into a profitable steady state?
  2. What’s your identity? Netflix has laid claim to all the DVDs you want - No late fees. What will Amazon be?
  3. Your abusers are apt to also be your evangelists. How many good customers has your so-called bad customer steered towards your service?

Cultivate great customers, Fire your failures. Some customers will never be great, but you won’t know until you try. And if you focus on firing your bad customers, you may never find your great ones.