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The Customer Is Not Always Right (Int'l Edition)


International -- Readers Report

THE CUSTOMER IS NOT ALWAYS RIGHT (int'l edition)

Your columnist has evidently never heard the phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" ("So you want to hire the beautiful. Well, why not?" Economic Viewpoint, Mar. 16). Beauty is too subjective a criterion to be used in the allocation of jobs. In any case, promoting beauty in the way Professor Robert J. Barro seems to suggest would only serve to alienate people who do not consider themselves beautiful, which would more than offset any gain achieved in national product. It is misguided to think that a prosperous society is determined solely by profit.

John Knox

Belfast

I was amused by Robert Barro's Economic Viewpoint. I, too, am familiar with the research that shows that beautiful people receive not only better wages and promotion opportunities but also lighter jail sentences, should they be caught breaking the law.

Barro contributes to the perpetuation of the fatal myth of customer "supremacy" that pervades much of our business thinking today. In doing this, he ignores the extensive body of research on customer satisfaction that shows that customers often do not know what satisfies them. Even more important, part of this research shows that some of the "satisfiers" are economically nonviable. Until we get away from the myth that the customer is "boss," we will continue to see our economies run by John Kenneth Galbraith's notion of the consumer as "unsatisfiable monster." This will continue the prevalent fashion for business experimentation as CEOs and others keep on looking for a business "solution" that doesn't exist.

Peter Stannack

Director

Performance Sourcing Ltd.

Ashington, England


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