Case 1 – Customer is king, but customer is wrong
My company offers its services to many MNCs, one of it being a very well known American company. And I work at the client's place. This particular American company has a history of engineering firsts, and naturally is pretty damn proud of it. From the outside, these achievements are rightfully quite commendable. But the situation from inside, at least in the project I am in, is not very pretty. The way the project is managed…or more particuarly the Manager is <insert fav swear word>. Now that is fine with me, because this breed of egoistical managers are present all over the Indian software industry these days. But the adhoc way in which things are done over here makes life very, very difficult for most of the people who do the actual work. And we have ideas on how to do things better.
So my boss one day decides to straighten out things by having an open discussion on how to improve work allocation. Now in plain simple words, this would be my boss telling the people above the manager at the client location, "shut your manager inside some server room and let my people do their work." But in the corporate world, you gotta be careful whose toes you are stepping on. So they have a long discussion and nothing comes out of it. The customer refuses to budge. And what next? Nothing really. It is a dead end. Because customer is king. Oh well, fine. I was only trying to improve matters, not show them I am smart. But now my job really sucks and half the time I am watching slow turds chase their own tails. And no one is doing anything about it. Why? Coz the customer fuckin' hands out the cheques every month and he has the final word.
Case 2 – Customer is king, but he's king nothing
I am the customer in this case, and my computer dealer is the vendor. I chose him because he was recommended, and was also an AMD guy. Most computer vendors go the Intel route and when I built my PC, I didn't want an Intel inside. So I caught this guy. He charged me more than the M.R.P for the parts, but that's fine. He put the rig together for me and also promised free after sales service.
But all is fine only till money changes hands. Once I pay him, he's too busy to help me promptly when my computer acts up. He doesn't say that he cannot help me. He still promises to come home and see what's wrong. But he doesn't turn up unless I call him a zillion times. Am I angry with him personally? No, not really. No hard feelings with the guy. He knows his stuff and is a decent chap. But am I happy with his working style. Surely not. So that still makes me an unhappy customer.
Moral of the story – Customer is king as long as competition is tough. And when's the case, he can get away with murder.
On the other extreme, customer is king only as long as he wields the power of money. After that, you're on your own baby!
Super-moral of the story – When you look at a transaction from the 'customer-vendor' point of view, you ain't gonna achieve much. Coz end of the day, it has no inherent meaning and does no higher good.