Businesses have an ethical and moral obligation to meet their responsibilities and care for customers.
Recent news reports have mentioned phone company Sprint is firing 1000 high maintenance customers. While that may be a sad tale, the customers will probably survive and move on to another carrier.
What happens when a customer has a major dependency on a business? What if that customer’s life depended on the business?
My grandfather has been in an assisted living center in Raleigh, North Carolina. Because of his age, he has lost a lot of his physical and mental capabilities. His dependence on his care providers is significant.
Would you “fire” my grandpa? I’d hope not! However, that is exactly what Pine Tree Villa in Raleigh did.
According to the local News and Observer report:
The operators of a West Raleigh adult care home, Pine Tree Villa, have told residents they have 30 days to move out, paving the way for renovations designed to attract a better-paying group of residents.
The more than 50 residents of the facility on Duraleigh Road heard the news in meetings last week. But state and county officials said the oral notice violates state rules that require homes to tell residents in writing and give them 30 days warning.
“Some of these residents can’t handle the constant change — routine is everything,” said Holly Harper, who heads the [resident] association. “One of my tablemates has been in tears. She’s up at the nurse’s station and crying and wanting someone to tell her it’s OK.”
Harper said Friday that staff members, faced with the shutdown of Pine Tree Villa, have begun to neglect residents
You may decide that your business would be better with different clientèle. That is fine. However, you have certain obligations you must fulfill.
Obey the Law
The meeting at the care facility presented a “get out now” message to the residents. This obviously didn’t meet the 30 day written requirement.
Even if you have no moral code of conduct, the legal system is in place to help keep you somewhat on track. You can not violate the laws and regulations governing your business and its dealings with customers.
Once word got out about the meeting, some publicity and pressure got applied to Pine Tree Villa. They then composed a letter, back dated it, and sent it out to residents.
Be honest, even though the truth hurts. Trying to rewrite history in your favor will never work. The truth will eventually be exposed.
Fulfill Your Responsibilities
The week before this “get out” meeting, my grandpa experienced deteriorating care. He wasn’t bathed for a week and was stuck in the same clothes everyday for that time.
You have a commitment to care for your customers! The ship may be sinking, but you don’t have to take them with you.
Ease the Transition
If you find you must dismiss customers, help them find a replacement. Give them alternatives, help them move, and pay the transition costs. There are several ways you can make that transition less painful.
Critical Customer Service
Certain services like health care, education, emergency services, utilities, and senior care centers (among others) have customers whose lives literally depend on them. These service providers are given an even larger responsibility and trust to care for their clients.
If you signed up to run a business in these critical areas, you’ve promised to live a higher law. Pursuit of short term financial gains to the detriment of your customers can have life and death consequences. Choose wisely.