Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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I’m fascinated with great customer service.

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent years of my life as a bartender and waitress.

Or, more likely, it’s because truly outstanding customer service demonstrates the best of our humanity: honesty, vulnerability, forgiveness, generosity and ultimately — love.

Does thinking the customer is always right make you act all kinds of wrong? Click To Tweet

In recent years, it’s been a mostly one-sided conversation.

We consumers tell the world how businesses treat us with our Yelp or Amazon reviews and through our blogs or on social media.

But have you ever considered how businesses would rate YOU as their customer?

What if the businesses you buy things from began publicly rating you on things like:

  • How kindly you treat their staff when you make a request or ask for help

  • Whether or not you honor your agreements to pay on time

  • Your willingness to read the fine print and follow instructions

  • Your behavior towards other “shoppers” or members of the community

On this week’s new episode, we’re looking at how technology may be challenging that old adage, “the customer is always right.”

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Check out this episode on The Marie Forleo Podcast

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As both a consumer and a business owner, I’ve been on all sides of this conversation — and I’ve made mistakes all the way around.

But what makes me so excited is the possibility that technology may be helping us collectively, ever so subtly, hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Especially when things don’t go the way we expect.

So perhaps this idea of “customer ratings” can help us all pause and behave a bit more kindly, a bit more honestly and with a bit more compassion and understanding for one another.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear from you. If you knew you were being rated as a customer, would it impact how you behave?

On a scale of 1 – 10, 1 being you’re the ultimate PITA and 10 being you’re a superstar customer, how would you rate yourself? If you’re less than a 7 right now, tell us one change would you make to be a better customer.

While this is a fun conversation to have in the context of business and technology, what’s even more interesting to me is how once “private” behavior becoming public can inspire us to simply be better humans.

Thank you, as always, for reading, watching and sharing your wisdom and experiences with us all.

With love,


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  1. I had a client that was a PITA – and it was one of my early opportunities to train a client on how to NOT be a PITA. This isn’t something I regularly do, since that’s not my job, but it was a great reminder that some people just don’t know how to be a customer. She is now a great client, and not a PITA. But it means setting boundaries, that’s for sure.

    Also, a question: you use a lot of music in your videos, how do you handle the licensing for that?

    • Love the idea of training your clients how to be better customers, Lisa! That’s definitely a way to go above and beyond as a service provider and it’s fabulous to hear that the time you spent worked out so well both for you and the client.

      • Well, to be blunt, we train EVERYONE around us how to behave by what we expect and what we accept from them. That’s a mantra I’ve been living for years and teaching to my clients. What do you tolerate? What do you put up with? When will you draw the line? What do you WANT, how to you encourage that? Ultimately, THAT is how the world really works. 🙂

        • So true, Lisa. I think where this all gets so interesting is that, of course, we’re always sending signals about what’s okay and what’s not based on what we tolerate, but sometimes there’s not much learning happening (so, I set a boundary, the other person walks away, and then they do that exact same boundary-crossing behavior to someone else)–that you and your client both fully engaged in a real cycle of teaching and learning, though, is what’s lovely.

        • I like your bluntness Lisa! Great questions to ask! Totally a boundaries and expectations issue. My mantra is always take the high road 🙂

        • Ahh, Lisa! You’re absolutely right–you’ve hit the nail on the head.

          Thank you so much for saying that. 🙂 (I think I’ve just had a mini breakthrough!)

    • Good points, Lisa. I think this is great advice in and outside of business. As we’ve heard time and time again, “You teach people how to treat you.” (think that was Dr. Phil’s quote)

    • Lisa: setting boundaries is HUGE! Thanks for bringing that up. I used to feel all icky about it at first but then I quickly got over that and realized that setting boundaries is the thing thats going to make me focus on service and attract amazing clients.

    • Thanks for asking the music licensing question, Lisa! I’ve been wondering the exact same thing…
      What say you, Team Forleo?

      • Ronja,

        Music licensing is a big deal. There’s some stuff you can get away with on YouTube because of the advertising deals folks have, but I know Marie’s not running ads on her vids, so I’m wondering how she gets all that music cleared. I’ve been wanting to do some similar stuff, but I have had to wait for-EVER to get replies from music publishers. Would love to get the scoop on how Team Forleo is handling this.

        • I can imagine that they actually pay for the seconds they use so that they’re allowed to use it.

          When I did a lot of videos we got our music from Jamendo (royalty free) which I highly recommend, or recorded live bands on the streets.

          Otherwise, I would also love to know how they do it here on MarieTv!

        • Dayna Baby

          Hi! I’m a female singer songwriter, and producer,very passionate about music!
          I’m happy to create made-to-measure unique pieces of music especially for you and your specific requirements, which will be original and royalty free. You would just pay a one-off fee for the music and then it is yours to do what you want with it.
          Please contact me if you would like to know more about what I can offer.

      • Hey Lisa and all!

        Super interesting and valuable conversation — and it’s a biggie that unfortunately doesn’t have crystal clear guidelines yet. As you know, technology and our collective ability to create media has moved a lot faster than our laws. That leaves most of us with a lot of questions, fuzzy and sometimes conflicting answers, and many different and often strongly opposing views.

        For today’s 15 seconds of musical fun, we purchased the karaoke track and we sang along with it. From our research (and we do a lot of it — we strive and stay on top of, and the right side, of the law!) and what we’ve been able to gather from our legal counsel, this falls under parody and is fair use.

        Also, as you noted, this is a free YouTube series, we don’t monetize these videos through YouTube’s ad network, and our content falls under educational and informative media.

        All that said, we also put ourselves in the creators’ shoes and strive to pay homage to their art. As you may have noticed, we never use more than a few seconds, it’s always in a celebratory, fun and positive context showing appreciation, gratitude and credit to the creators.

        In terms of our intro and outro music for the show — that’s all legal purchased music that we have the right to use.

        You can read more about “fair use” on Wikipedia here and also the official blog of YouTube here.

        Finally, as we do, we suggest running anything you want to do by your own legal counsel.


        • I’ve been on both sides of the schtick on this topic, and still, it’s Pita’s illusions I recall; I really don’t know Pitas, at all. 😉
          Actually, because of my patience and understanding garnered because of being on both sides of the fence, I would probably be highly rated as a customer. Sometimes I am too patient and understanding as a customer, often, undeservedly so.
          Although it’s off-topic, since it was brought up, I went the extra mile to get Cynthia Brown’s permission to use her video clip ‘Notre Terre’, having to go through a French site to seek her permission. (it can be viewed on my contact page). It was granted with her blessings. Sometimes you just have to ask.

        • Henry


          Your last sentence sums it all up – get a legal opinion. Reading “terms and conditions” and the law is a good start but is not the whole story. The best way to use music is to subscribe to a service that clears the music that they provide – OR – as another person suggests, have a bit done specifically for you with all rights.

          One *might* be able to “get away” with marginal use of another’s work but with greater risk. Remember the BIG fines levy against folks who copied a single movie or album? Tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and then much more in fines.

          Why subject yourself, your family and your business to that type of lawsuit?


        • Thank you for your reply, Marie!

    • yes, Lisa! I also have some challenges with using music. where do you ladies find music for video/audio intros? and more importantly what kind of agreement do you need to sign to make sure nobody will sue you in a couple of years?

      • Candy

        Try I have used them for many business and consumer video projects.

    • I love that you said you trained a client on how NOT to be a PITA.

      I often have clients who work in customer service or provide a service to people and have certain expectations (i.e. timeliness, cancellation policy) but then they don’t practice their own expectations with me.

      I love the practice of mirroring that back to them and having them realize where they might be at fault there.

    • I also have wondered about the licensing question and would love to know what you know, Marie, about using the video and music clips!

    • Courtney Harwood

      That’s funny. I was just talking to a friend about how liberating it is when you have high-quality clients.

      By the way Lisa, I’m curious too regarding the use of licensed/copyrighted music.

      Marie, I notice you use music tracks from big name hip-hop artists. Not to get off topic here, but how do you handle the licensing on that?

      I know Google/YouTube has strict TOS policy. I would love to use well known music hits in my videos too. But I’m afraid that Google will put the smackdown on my videos and my YouTube channel.

      How do you get around this? (Besides being besties with Snoop and Jay-Z?)

    • Hi Lisa
      I have in the past used Kevin Macleod he has royalty free and music you can purchase.
      Cheers Suzie

      • Suzie,

        As a singer/songwriter, I use a lot of my own music, and I LOVE Kevin’s work – been using his stuff for years. I was just curious how Marie does the licensing thing, since I’ve seen some of the music I’ve posted get ads appended to them because they’re using popular tunes.

  2. Love this, Marie! I’d rate myself as an 8 or 9, but think the reason I’m a good customer is because I’ve owned my own business for so long and so I really do try to be the customer I most love to work with. I think your first pita move is the cause of just about every pita customer I’ve ever had. Just reading would save us all so much time! 😉

  3. This is a great point, Marie! Just because someone is willing to pay money for your product or services, doesn’t mean they’ll make a great customer. And if problem customers/clients are taking up all your time and energy, it can affect the time and value you can provide to your best customers. It’s good to remember that you’re allowed to fire your clients if they’re being a PITA!

  4. Such an interesting conversation…

    In my past life I was a retail store owner and had to deal with all kinds of clients (some of them not so nice) on a day to day basis. This definitely influenced how I behaved when I was the customer, inspiring me to be kind and waaaaaaaay more patient.

    On another note, it was only a few years later that I took B-School and delved deeply in the Offerings Module where I learned so much about offering the best service and customer experience ever! (That module was so valuable).

    Bottom line, if we could all be aware that on the other side of the counter/email/website there is another human being we would all be more compassionate and kind.

  5. First of all, your dress is slammin’!

    As far as rating myself as a customer, I’ give myself an 8 on a bad day. I’m not always great with reading TOS, but I will admit to my shortcomings and I never purposely give anyone a hard time…except maybe my mother. I digress.

    As I stated above, these are rules that extend outside of the service provider-customer paradigm. Plain and simple, we teach people how to treat us. A PITA will continue to be one until you call him/her out in the nicest but effective way possible.

  6. OMG, I’m having flashbacks to when I was PITA #3 all over the place. I know now that I didn’t respect myself, so there was no way to respect anyone else. I took EVERY slight personally. So sad. Thank goodness for growth and evolution and I can now proudly report that I’m consistently in the 8-9 range on the scale. YAY! Why did it take so long to learn that you get what you give, and giving more kindness and compassion means getting better service.

  7. This is such an interesting and juicy topic.

    I think since becoming an entrepreneur I have definitely amped up my game when it comes to being a better client/customer. Not only do I have my fair share of the 0.1% of clients who are PITAs, but I like to use them as teachable moments for myself (how not to act) and for my business (if I’m attracting clients like these I need to tighten up my niche – or do a better job of communicating it).

    Every PITA comes with a lesson 🙂

  8. I’ve definitely fallen into the category of PITA #1 – me no read. and it has bitten me in the butt (!) when it comes to deadlines for making a decision. Action step: actually read through all of the terms and conditions before signing off on something to really make sure I know what’s going on and can be a great customer 🙂

  9. Krista Kubie

    This was a brilliant and brave video to make. As always, Marie, you cover the tough topics with love, humor and class. Thanks for this vid.

  10. Such a great video, even more awesomely random than usual, but an amazing point. I actually had to fire a customer recently from my branding business because she was difficult, added stress, and just wasn’t worth the time. The customer is NOT always right. Moving forward I’m going to make sure that I’m much more selective about who I take on as clients. I’d rather go with less money in my pocket than spend any more sleepless nights worrying about difficult customers. Thank you once again Marie!

  11. I’m a pretty good customer. I’d rate myself 8-10 depending on the day/service. When I love something I try to go out of my way to write a killer testimonial. If I’m disappointed with what I received, I’ll always ask openly and politely for a refund, with the reasons so if there’s a problem with the program they can change it OR if I’m just not the right fit I’ll simply let them know it’s a bad fit.

    • That’s awesome Erin — letting folks know in a kind — yet straightforward way what didn’t work for you can give the company really valuable feedback to grow with.

  12. As someone who worked in some type of service industry putting myself through college, it was at first startling and then sad watching that side of human behavior. I hope I am a 10 if someone rated me as a customer, and I am sure most people who have been on that end of the service coin are. The other part I keep thinking about are the tremendous repercussions of their actions. It comes down to ethics, too, and how their actions can affect so many. Disneyland’s recent decision to no longer allow the disabled to move to the front of the lines is a sad example. By so many people “cheating” the system and pretending to be disabled, their actions made something considerate and possibly necessary for others disappear. I wish we could rate those people who abused that privilege so they no longer could be allowed there. Here’s to Uber and ethical progress!

  13. I LOVE THIS!!! We have 99.85% great customers. Then there is the .15% that can drive you up the wall. There is nothing you can do to make them happy.

    I am going to think about this -this week. How can I be a better customer. Good, good, good post Marie!

    I’m going to share!

    • Love this Cathy!

      Recognising how we bahave as customers helps us to understand our own customers and clients, and actually helps to strengthen your idea of the type of client you want to attract. Super important, and has benefits far in addition to just “not being a bad customer”

  14. Mona Kelly

    Am a 10. I have an authentic respect for people regardless of their job position, from the office cleaning lady to the CEO of the company.
    Great episode. It’s good to hear that even the Marie Forleo and stellar teams of this world have to deal with PITA.

  15. I always like to say “The customer is always right… until that customer is wrong.” At which point, you could always tell them to buzz off 😉

    • True that, Derek!

    • I’d pay to hear you say the words “buzz off” 🙂

      • Hey, I can’t just come over here and start dropping F bombs in your comment section… I’m trying to be politically correct over here.

  16. Jennifer

    It is so funny how you use PITA – I was using that back in 97 when I was working as a customer service rep for a telecommunications company – if we had a really bad one we’d code their comments PITA – to give a heads up to the exit agent who’d take the call!

    Let me tell you being on the receiving end of many many many complaining customers led me to be a sure fire 10 client myself – cause I know what it feels like & I want people to be happy! You can get way more accomplished being respectful, friendly & engaging then being a beeatch!

    • Amber

      Oh yes. Great point Jennifer. PITAs are absolutely rated behind the scenes and it does often affect how far a service provider is willing to go for them.

      I am obsessed with customer service and probably overly-aware of my interactions as a customer. I can actually annoy myself sometimes. 😉

  17. Hi Marie,

    Great episode and one I truly appreciate! Owning my own business and working in various customer service jobs (yes, waitress included), I think that I am a very good customer because I know what it’s like to be in their shoes.

    It’s important to remember that if you have a rude customer that really, its nothing personal to you. Its simply their attitude and view on life.

    Alexis Meads

    • Great point, Alexis! I think the reason why customer in some countries can be rude is because they have never had experience working service jobs. Because their “social status” doesn’t allow them to.

  18. Marie, this is such a thought-provoking video. Thank you. I reflect on customer service often, especially since working in France as opposed to the United States. There’s definitely a different approach here… and the customer tends to be less right as a result 😉

  19. Juicy topic, Marie!

    I’ve always prided myself on excellent customer service, but it’s only since being an entrepreneur that I’ve been able to serve ONLY the people who work gel with me, who are honest yet polite and who purchase my products and services being totally sure of what they’re getting. In an employed position, I saw myself much more as a subservient representative of the company, and as far as I was concerned, the customer WAS always right.

    It’s also important to remember that even if a customer or client DOES turn out to be a complete douchebag despite all your hard work and attempts to understand their situation, that we deal with them with integrity (however much we might want to call them up on their douchebaggeryness… It’s a word…) I like to use the classic, “We’re not a good fit”.

    Thanks Marie, another great video as always!

  20. this is truly the best viedo from Marie TV EVER!! this hits home because my clients are uber high maintenance and while I love them and do my best.. alot of times there is unnecessary Diva behavior!!!!! im so fired up in a good way about this video! thank you for validating what Ive been saying for 3 years now 🙂

  21. LOVE that you are tackling this. There is a serious lack of people taking personal responsibility for themselves in general and I think about this a lot because customer service is a big deal for me – both on the giving and receiving end. The thing is, we’re all doing the best we can with the tools that we have at any given time. That’s not an excuse for the a-holes, it’s a reminder to respond with compassion. I once had a client on an adventure trip that started acting like a hot mess right near the end. Total nightmare. And I realized quick that that’s the only way she knew how to ‘control’ a situation that wasn’t going her way. (ie; all attention on her) She simply didn’t have the social skills nor the personal awareness to do any better than that. Of course if I had the chance to rate her I’d be honest about it but in the moment, it helps to see the whole person and why they’re behaving like an idiot. Most of the time people just want to be seen/heard. And when they’re straight up ignorant? Out the door! See ya!

  22. Ric

    Reporting on customers’ attitudes and performance as a customer is a super idea. There has needed to be an evening out of this one way commenting and reporting that is done by customers towards businesses.

    A great idea might be to provide a lower price or lower interest rate (for charged purchases) for those who are rated at appropriate levels. Such as Get 5% off for a rating of 90 – 94%,
    Get 10% off for a rating of 95 – 99%,
    Get 15% off for a rating of 100%.

    People tend to be motivated well by money…just a thought.

  23. Umang Goel

    I’ve got to say Marie, this was simply marvelous! This last Sunday, in all the years in my business as a Yoga Studio Owner, this was the first time I had a customer that left me stunned! So your video came out at the RIGHT time!! (I am constantly updating my policies!)

    Thanks you so much. I am sending this whole article with your video to my business distribution list! YES I AM! I love you and the awesome service you provide for FREE!!!! What a great content. How very amazing you are. And I do not normally gush like this either 🙂 Obviously you touched something deep within.

    Sometimes I wonder how can you be so pretty and amazing at the same time 😉


    • Umang Goel

      Hi Marie,
      As a result of your video I have done the following:
      1. Exposed my students/customers in my distribution list to your write-up and video
      2. Created the following page on my website:

      Would love to know what you think. Any improvements?

      • Umang Goel

        Again, Thank You so much for great insight. 🙂

      • Umang, I love the customer rating page you created! However, I think you need to reduce the amount of “!” at the end of your statements. Some exclamation points might come off as though you’re yelling at the customers (which is the last thing you want them to feel I’m sure). I might consider using your same approach in my own business. Good luck with it!
        P.S. I’d be curious to hear what Marie thinks of it.

        • Umang Goel

          Thank you for your feedback. I listened and took out “!”
          I also made a couple more changes. I have asked my well liked students to give me a feedback as well. I will find out what they have to say and act accordingly. It is a delicate ground, but so much needed.

          Hope I do get some feedback from Marie, for I do value her advice so much 🙂

          Do let me know what you end up doing for your website. Thank you again.

          • S Lowe

            Great Job on your “rate yourself as a customer” page, it does seem like a fun idea. I would be interested in your customers response to it. I think it would also be fun to have a page where customers can rate the business. So we all can grow

  24. Bev

    Over the top customer service comes from being an over the top customer. Being able to rate all aspect of customers and customer service would be a huge learning curve.

  25. Oh Marie, just when I thought that I could adore you any more than I already do, you just had to come and drop this episode.

    No one is more passionate about customer service than I am, but I can say with confidence that there is no more abusive phrase in American business history than “The Customer is Always Right.” I love the fact that you have the back of your team when they are faced with abusive behavior from your customers, because far too many bosses (for reasons unbeknownst to me) don’t have the guts to do that.

    As for my rating, I would seriously rate myself a “10” on the customer scale. I know, I know…it’s a very high rating, but I’ve worked in many service jobs in my life and I know what it’s like to be treated in sub-human fashion by PITA #3’s–that’s why I go out of my way to give as much love as possible to the very hard-working (and appreciation starved) folks who deal with customers for a living.

    Thanks for bringing this incredibly important issue to light, Marie. No one is “always” right, especially the jokers who consistently display any of the 3 PITA behaviors in this episode.

  26. Marie,

    I believe it’s all about giving AND receiving great customer service. Like you point out it’s all about respect and appreciation.

    Just because you are spending money with a company doesn’t give you the right to bully them. If you’re having a bad day and lash out at someone who’s fault is that. When I do that, because I’m human, I often catch myself and apologize to the poor person.

    Even if the service they provide is sub-par why punish them with some poisonous comment. I will let them know if I’m not happy with service but try to do it in such a way, that if they’re open to it, it may improve how they provide the service. I mean I would love to know what my readers think of my content, good or bad.

    A nasty comment or terrible interaction with anyone will stay with me for hours. Take my comments and stuff them where the sun shines:)

  27. Hi Marie,
    Fantastic topic! I refer to 2 types of PITA’s in my book – “Oscar” is the moniker we gave to the type you blackball, and “Gladys” is a PITA that can be converted to a raving fan that spreads good word of mouth about your business because of the way you handle her. I love the concept of customer service in reverse. May I reprint this post and link to your video on my customer service blog?

  28. I do believe I am amongst the best customers out there.

    For no other reason that I’ve done enough “menial labour”, for low enough pay to know how hard most jobs are.

    And also, you respect others as you respect yourself.

    The question I am *really* interested in is this: if the customer is not always right, and you know that what they need is not what they’re asking for… how do you get them to buy it?

  29. Love that you are talking about the customers role in the customer service process. Karma Baby. What you put out, you get back. I truly believe it. When dealing with PITA’s… I have 3 words.
    Fire Their Ass

    That’s it.

  30. Thank you for info. Like not reading, terms of service, Me no Pay , stop paying , just for being cruel to eachother, a real life human being is on the other side. because of bad paying, your company gets black listed on other companies.
    Superstar customers.

  31. What a brilliant and insightful vid!

    You are spot on Marie, as human beings, it is our duty to be well mannered, kind and considerate no matter whether you are a business or a customer and, calling out PITA’s on their bad behaviour is a great way to inspire people to to treat businesses with the same respect that they are given as customers.

    Ebay take note – I was alarmed the other day when I discovered that I wasn’t allowed to leave negative feedback for a customer on ebay. Twice, she had bought something from me but not paid despite me sending her a really lovely message. What really annoyed me was that this customer didn’t even have the courtesy to tell me that she no longer wanted the items – which I would have been ok with.

    If you leave negative feedback for a customer on ebay – they remove it, which I think is quite unfair.

  32. This is such a great topic. Having run my own biz for a couple of decades, I’ve definitely learned about PITAs. There were a few (very few) in the course of my work and honestly, I pretty much had to refuse to serve them. It made trying to do the work just too difficult. I can clearly see how biz of the future with tech behind it, could make this customer service issue much more balanced.

    Sadly, I was once a PITA. Just once though…:)…about 25 years ago. I was impatient with a clerk in a store and said something to show that I was. It was uncharacteristic of me and I knew it. I knew it immediately. In fact, I quickly left the store, bought a bouquet of flowers and returned to the store with an apology (written and spoken). I have tried my very best to never be a PITA again….ever since. It’s just not worth it.

  33. I have fired clients for being PITAs, because they made me miserable, and I began to hate my business. Both as a business owner and a customer I go out of my way to be nice to people, but of course we all mess up. We’re human. I have found that most problems can be solved as long as you’re willing to admit that you screwed up and apologize. Put a smile on top of that, and you’re doing pretty good.

  34. Marie,

    As usual, a gem to bookmark 🙂 I would say I’m a 9 as a customer, always leaving room for improvement – however, due to some client’s being PITA’s for reason #2, we have had times where WE became PITA’s for reason #2…they didn’t pay for our services, we couldn’t pay for other services. Thank goodness those days are (mostly) behind us!!!

    We have definitely had to fire clients in the past. There was nothing we could say or do to make them happy, and when that point comes, it’s time to separate.

    Thanks for the great video Marie!!!


  35. Great points, but it’s sad to think that the only way some folks will behave properly is the threat of punishment – bad rating, blacklisting, etc. Just keep your promises, be polite, and say thank you, folks. Not hard to do at all! Thank you, Marie!

  36. Love this topic and so glad you brought this up in your usual classy style.

    I owned a restaurant and served hundreds of customers each day. As you can imagine, I had my share of daily pitas. Our policy was to “kill them with kindness” but if that didn’t work, we kindly asked them to leave and yes, they were black listed. This was an easy decision to make because their bad behavior not only effected me and my staff’s ability to service others but it impacted other diners experience and eliminating pitas from the restaurant was just part of good customer service.

    A restaurant is the perfect place to witness the good from the bad customers. I think that pitas should have to go through training in a restaurant when they’re labeled pitas just like bad drivers have to go drivers ed. LOL

  37. You guys love me!!! I know because I saw my small picture among the others! Thank you, Marie! :):):):):):):):)

  38. Excellent post Marie!

    I taught customer service training for years and I agree that we all have to help our customers to be the best that they can be by making our services easy to follow, easy to pay for and that we are helpful and focused on taking full responsibility for what we say we offer.

    And – we will have greater capacity to give amazing service to customers if we protect ourselves from people who choose to treat us without respect. I think that we are doing a service to people by setting boundaries or blacklisting them. It will help them to learn to be more respectful customers.

    Thanks for this perspective – it is empowering.

  39. LOVED this!

    In my work teaching people how to do networking that’s actually FUN, I always say that the NUMBER ONE rule in networking – as in life – is “Don’t be a d-ck”. Be nice to everyone because they are human beings – but also, if you are, you never know when it will come back to help you out.

    I strive to be a 10, and hopefully hover at 8 or 9. When I’m getting angry about something whilst talking to a customer service representative on a phone line, I ALWAYS make a point of, if I get shouty, saying, “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t your fault personally, I know YOU didn’t make the rules. I’m just very frustrated”.
    Again – I’m doing it because they’re humans, but I also find it works wonders!

    Ps GREAT frock!

  40. This is my favorite Marie TV Topic!

    It is actually something I preach to my team. “Can you imagine if we could rate this customer and block them?”

    I believe if you have work delivering customer service you tend to behave better and be more comprehensive than administrative staff, because you understand. But people who haven’t deal with a client, they really think “I am the client who is ALWAYS right”.

    I wouldn’t have a problem if a business rates me as a customer, I’m 100% patient and a teacher, sometimes they just don’t know how to treat you as a client.

    Thank you for this episode Marie and Team Forleo, you have made my day!

    • The funny thing about this is eBay. Remember when you could actually leave negative feedback for a buyer? When they took that option away, it totally shifted the landscape for buyers AND sellers. And that’s when I left. In essence, you’ve said “the customer is always right, no matter what” but if I told eBay (or any other company for that matter) that I wanted their service and refused to pay in a timely manner for it, they’d cut me off, send a collection agency after me, and make a point to not do business with me ever again.

      I think transparency needs to run both ways in a transaction. 🙂

      • As every subject, this post as different points of view like: What is a bad customer? When is he/her misbehaving? Is it if she screams? or If she ask the same thing over an over again? ‘Cause let’s face it there are people in the world who get offended too quickly. And who can misunderstand the situation.

        I think like you, transparency for both sides. At the end, all problems get solve when BOTH PARTS are: a) Thinking in the other person b) communicating.

        Thank you Lisa for enriching my post 😉

  41. Love this, Marie! It came at a great time actually, just last night I worked with one of my favorite clients and I thought “I wish I could give her a testimonial for what an amazing client she is!”

    It’s such a joy to work with people who take responsibility for their life, push themselves and keep growing in between your sessions, and really want to make their life better. I find that I also do better work with them and we are all happier overall.

    I think there’s a big continuum of clients – from PITAs to stars you LOVE working with. As a client, if you want to get the most out of working with someone then you have to make sure not only that their message and style resonates with you, but also that you are taking 100% responsibility for your own growth – and take what they give you and run with it. I haven’t had any PITA clients so far but they’ve spanned from me having to push them like a rock to a rocket that was a flying so high and so fast it was a challenge to me to keep up with them (how much fun!)

    As clients, it’s time to start taking responsibility for the service we’re receiving – by putting out the right kind of energy, and being star clients ourselves. Thanks for bringing this to light, Marie!

  42. One guideline I always follow is – I don’t say anything negative about a business/employee unless I have gone out of my way to complement someone/thing that I thought was really great. It helps me put the pause button on my reactions to a bad situation and realize that it’s not the person in front of me that I’m angry with. (it’s usually myself).

    I also think we as customers tend to forget to complement on a regular basis. That extra thank you or good job can really go a long way to make someone feel great! I know I love it when I hear it!!!

  43. MC

    What an awesome point — not just for the business owners who relate to having rude customers, but for all of us who do roll our eyes at the coffee counter and act entitled or take advantage of how much emphasis is put on amazing customer service. It isn’t hard to get someone reprimanded or even fired with a sharp complaint to the manager — but maybe we all need to step back and chill the eff out!

    When I went to Peru this summer, one of the best pieces of advice I got was to let go of my New Yorker entitlement towards immediate customer service in restaurants and otherwise. The service in most places was friendly and warm, but definitely not the fast-and-furious, frantic service I am used to in NYC. Same with foot traffic. Actually, the only fast thing in Peru were the taxis. While slow pokes usually make me insane, I was conscious of myself and learned to enjoy the process of interacting with people instead of getting frustrated that I was still waiting for food or for someone to count change.

    After all, what is the rush?! I had to keep asking myself that, coming from a lifetime of rush rush rush.

    A good mood or a switch in perspective can change everything, and when customers interactive with respect and just a plain old chipper attitude, I think it can be a game changer for the whole interaction. Customer gets more out of it, business owner has the chance to deliver the full effect of their service or product, and everyone is happy/inspired/etc.

    Loved this video.

  44. I admittedly had to look up PITA, but the definition was so much less obscene than I was expecting, ha ha! I’d rate myself as a 9, because I worked in retail and at a ski resort for long enough to see how deplorable some customers can be (oh could I tell you some stories that would challenge your faith in humanity…shudder…). The worst part about all those memories is that you never remember the normal, nice people- only the despicable crazies. It reminds me of that quote you see that goes something like “a person who is kind to you but not to the waiter is not a nice person”. Amen!
    This post has really inspired me to set up my sales page in a way that kindly encourages the PITAS to realize that this is not the product for them. I’m not sure what it looks like yet, but I know that thanks to today’s video I’ll be pretty clear and upfront about what the product does and what it does not do and what type of person it is for. Thanks for everything, Marie!

    • Oh Jill, I just copy and paste that quote: “a person who is kind to you but not to the waiter is not a nice person”.

      I totally get you, I’ve been working in retail for 8 years now, in my past job we call the PITAS: “PP” = Problematic Patient. And boy we both have stories that challenge the faith in humanity.

      But I must say, in my new business I DON’T let my team to remember these PITAS, because I don’t want them to lose the faith in the 98-99% of the good, caring and loving customer. The rest 2-1% can go to *%$& (other business).

      • I love that you focus your business and employees on the good instead of the bad customers! Keeping that attitude in the forefront of everyone’s minds undoubtedly attracts more good customers to your business (and keeps your employees feeling happy and valued).

  45. Nadia


    I love the idea of rating rating customers as well.
    As a kid, my mother would get really pissed at me if I behaved badly or rudely in a shop or toward somebody. Simple principle of respect.
    I think I’m around 9. We can’t be perfect all the time 😉

    I used to work as a sale assistant and I was appalled by the way some customer would behave, just because they thought they could.
    Maybe everybody should work at least once as a sale assistant, bartender, in a customer service team or any kind of job where they would have to provide those kind of services, so people can realise how awfully rude they can be sometimes.

    By the way, your customer service and your team is awesome,
    Thanks to Chelsea who really helped me last time by answering to one of my question.


  46. Toni

    Marie, your dress is awesome, who is the designer? Thank you!

    • Hi Toni!

      Marie’s dress in this video is from BCBG 🙂


  47. Gil

    OMG, that video was hilarious and on the money. I typically try being a nice customer but knowing that I am being rated would make me even more likely to be a rock star customer. On ebay, sellers can rate buyers and it is something that I like as both a seller and a buyer.

    But to answer your question, no the customer is NOT always right. If you must interact with a customer however, as a business, you MUST always bring your A game and not stoop to the a bad customer’s level…although it is 100% ok to black list that person afterwards…IMHO.

  48. Amber

    I think it’s important to know, if you realize you’ve been a PITA, you CAN go back and apologize… even if it’s weeks later. Yes, the employee will remember you (for reasons you’d not like to admit) and it will probably make their day if you humbly return to let them know you’re sorry (or send a letter, make a call, etc).

    I’ve witnessed a major PITA, who it turns out was generally frustrated to no end, as she was left alone to deal with the aftermath of a family death and had no clue how to deal with it all, especially while keeping her own life in tact. That had nothing to do with the service she was receiving, but it had everything to do with her angry and helpless attitude. Unfortunately, she only came across as a raging #3 to anyone in her path.

    We all have bad days and make ugly mistakes. I remind myself of this often when it comes to judging customers. We don’t know what they’re going through. As a customer, a simple apology can totally reverse your PITA status and actually endear you to the service provider.

    Repeat-PITAS however… No excuse.

    • MC

      Agreed! I’ve spent an entire cab ride arguing with the driver about his refusal to take a certain bridge, and it got real nasty as I was in the midst of a nightmare day, already in the mindset that this individual was there to “serve” me. By the time I got home, I felt horrible, remembering that we were equals, just trying to get through the day, and when I apologized his face lit up and he was the sweetest guy ever. Yes, I left a huge tip with my apology!

      Since then I check myself before I raise my voice, make demands, or create any kind of unpleasant atmosphere while someone is helping me get home (or helping me with ANYTHING).

      • Amber

        Awesome example!

  49. I pride myself on being a good customer and a good business owner. I worked in HR dealing with employee complaints and conflict resoultion for 8+ years, and that taught me a lot about accomplishing things by being kind.

    PLUS, I’m from the South, so I beileve in the powers of my natural southern charm and a smile. Even if I am so unhappy with the service, product, etc, I’ll “kill them with kindness”, it always (99.9%) works! 🙂

  50. One of my pet peeves is horrific customer service. I used to call managers, supervisors to explain how bad the service was in a respectful way but when I notice that sometimes it is the culture of the company that needs to change now I just don’t do business with the place anymore. If I lose the money and they ask me for a review, my review gives facts and I leave my emotions out of the review. I changed all of that. Today I ask them how the service will be and what happens if they don’t deliver. If they cannot respond to my emails or questions before buying it’s a sign for me not to spend my money there at all. This way I keep myself from being upset and possibly turning like a b****h on them. Not worth my money or time because there is always someone out there offering better service.

  51. We’re hired to be of service, not of servitude.

    If a client is a PITA, I simply will not work with them. In fact, I refunded a disrespectful client. And even though it hurt me financially, I felt relieved to have this person out of my life.

    My peace of mind is priceless, and I will not sell it to anyone no matter how much money is offered.

  52. What a fantastic episode! Thanks Marie.

    Most of the customers at our Pilates studio are absolutely fantastic, but there are a few who appear to go out of their way to cause problems. We spend so much time and effort trying to satisfy this small percentage of customers who consistently give our staff a headache! It’s just not right.

    We go so far out of our way to serve our customers, that I never thought of flipping it around to rate them. I’ve also never thought about how I’ve behaved as a customer, so it’s something I’m definitely going to start paying attention to more often. Thanks for this insight…..will definitely do my best to get to at least a 9 or 10 🙂

  53. la femme artiste

    This is the number one problem with the younger set.

    Arguing with customers at the POS.

    I don’t much care how a business might rate my consumer activities or conduct.

    That is not the kind of world I will ever want to live in.

    Your are a business person, learn to be an excellent professional- servant to your products and your consumers.

    Be the entrepreneurial artist with your business peers.

  54. Marie,

    I love how you talk about a touchy topic with such grace, class and love. Personally, I’d rate myself as an eight, and I think part of that comes from a good upbringing (parents were good examples) and the fact that I’ve worked in retail.

    As a former manager of around 55 team members at a major retail store, let’s just say… it’ll really teach you how cray cray some people can be as customers.

    With that said, I definitely try to almost always talk to the manager if I experience great or outstanding customer service. If the customer service was really bad, I’ll talk to the manager too.

    As a business owner, I’d like to know when I do great and when I can improve.

    For example, the cashier at the window, who choose not to do something as simple as smile and say, how can I help you? Can end up costing the business owner heaps of future business. At the same time, we attract what we are, if you are a jerk as a customer to others, you’ll like attract jerk customers to your business.

    Thank you for the insightful video. It makes me want to be a better customer, boss, and overall, human. xo

  55. moni

    Great video, I am glad you pointed it out and explained. Sometimes I can’t make a decision so I procrascinate which then leads me to rushing to deadlinesI’ve. Also, I am guilty not reading the fine print. I got to improve myself in that department. Because at the end I am not hurting anyone, but myself. Thank you again.

    Read more:

  56. Being able to rate customers is a fabulous idea. It is normally the most unreasonable needy person that complains to a manager and gets an employee into trouble. I love the idea that some companies are now listening to their employees as well as customers.
    As a business owner I am lucky to have the choice of who I want to work with but I am sure a Pita will sneak through my door one day. Nice to know I have the option to ask that person to go out the same door.

  57. Awesome video! My favorite has to do the not reading what you sign. And yes, I have been guilty of this in my younger days, but no longer.

    I hate when people use the excuse that what they are signing is too difficult to understand so when things go bad (think mortgages), they blame the company for not making the documents clear. Okay, there is always room to improve a document; however, it is up to the consumer, to read AND UNDERSTAND important legal documents.

    Get a lawyer to explain it if you don’t. At the end of the day, you really only have yourself to blame if you signed legal documents and then later find out that you are stuck with what you signed.

  58. “Hell…I’m on the Pita Scale”
    Copyright 2013 by Jai Louys

    Tell me it’s NOT TRUE…Hated, despised, but “secretly LOVED by ALL of YOU…True?…Who knows…As tears and snot flow from my eyes and nose…1 or 10…Where should I begin…We all make a dish flavorful, right…Spices, seasoning, and the like…Well, “pita’s” are the same, too…I person may “love” what the other may HATE, too…Tolerance is the key…Why “blackball” the spices that bring the tastes of life “Pop & Harmony”?…If I’ve ever been a pita with a rating of a 1#…I apologize…It was never my intention to hurt and with tears in my eyes…I’m sorry Marie…To you and to all those like that were effected by me…If I were rated as that 1#…But, I have “dreams” of turning this around…Back on the email him too list…Like Brandy use to sing, “I want to be down”…I see 10’s in my future and forgiveness in your hearts…No replies or encouraging words from “you” is tearing me apart…We make the favor of life “Pop”…The spices that float to the top…The up’s and down’s and emotional tugs the forces you not to STOP…So, if I were to rate “Me”…I would be some days at a three…And. others at a eight, when enthusiastic for the date…Today I’m “sad”…I guess it’s better than being “mad”…But, each persons tastes buds enjoy different things that make them “glad”…So, my love goes out to “you”…That fan that sticks it through…Despite the criticism and haters chants that whisper unkind words related to you…Sure, we’ve all been that “pita” rated low and despised a lot…But, despite the errors, because “We ALL have skeletons in our closets”…Well, should I or should I NOT…Okay, I will…They held “rocks” in their hands to harm Jesus…Did that make them “right”…So, embrace the spice…Not to salty and not to bland…Life, business, and love always the perfect mixture and when it’s just right you can tell…I send my sincere “love” to you Marie, your staff, your fans…But…

    “Hell…I’m on the Pita Scale”



  59. Oliver


    As a customer I rate as a five. When I misbehave I sometimes ignore industry standards and explain that the business’s services or practices do not meet my standards. Sometimes I do this respectfully. Other times I do it scornfully.

    To rate as a better customer I must take a day or two to breath calmly before confronting a business with a policy or service concern. I should show less contempt. I should be a better service policy reader.

  60. It may sound naive or corny, but regardless which side I’m on – customer or service provider, I like to follow the old Golden Rule – treat others how I want to be treated.

    I used to be very abrupt (on the verge of rude) when receiving numerous telemarketing calls, but then I took a step back and realized they are just trying to do their job also. Knowing I don’t appreciate anyone being rude to me, I try to be as courteous as possible while kindly suggesting they remove me from their call list.

  61. When we started our B&B almost 4 years ago we began using a booking company where both hosts and guests received reviews. We no longer use that company for other reasons, but one thing I miss was the fact that guests were also being reviewed and so most thought twice about making a jab when in fact they were in the wrong. Yelp and Trip Advisor don’t offer this option and we have felt bullied more than once by guests using the public forum to say things that just aren’t true or downright mean.

    I would loooove it if both these companies opened up review of clients and customers as well.

    Owning a business does help me be a more understanding customer. It also makes me more lenient when reading negative reviews of other businesses. I am from Portland, Oregon where we are known for a certain amount of pride in our negative reviews which makes for an interesting new take on “the customer is always right”

    • Thanks for this Krista – so insightful. I often read negative reviews very carefully and with a grain of salt. Based on the tone, the specifics talked about, etc. — you can often see “through” some unfortunate situations.

      But I do agree that being able to rate both the hosts and the guests is a fantastic idea!

    • Krista! So nice to see another Portlandian here! You are right, there is a bit of pride in the negative reviews! I love the idea of rating the customer as well! Just like we business owners are always trying hard to please our customers and hope to get a great review from them, it should be vise versa!

      I just subscribed to your newsletter and am so excited to learn more about you and what you do!

  62. Becky Thompson

    This also applies to the employer/employee relationship as well. Do people find themselves acting all kind of wrong because their boss has the final say? This notion I would like to see boycotted from our society. Employers have way too much power, but that can change the minute we stop selling ourselves to them. When we treat society bad because we are the middle man to our boss, you are not only selling yourself short, but all of humankind.

  63. Brenda

    My husband and I own a Pool Company in Florida and guess who our worst customers are?? Real Estate Investors! We have to chase them down for payment and most of them end up not paying their bills so we simply stopped doing business with Real Estate investors. Thanks for this video and yes…lets rate the customers too! Reverse of Angie’s List! Who is going to launch the website ? 😉 Peace…

  64. I could not agree more Marie, One of my most influential mentors once explained a secret to me, he taught this:

    “The customer is NOT always right, but I am a professional, and I will always act accordingly” Even when I have to “fire” a customer.

    Thanks as always for the great insight and advice!

  65. Ahhh such a GOOD q to think about! I would have to say I’m a 6 because I treat businesses good and always compliment them when they exceed my expectations, but the one thing I don’t always do is let them know whey they aren’t. There have been times where I could have said something and I didn’t because I didn’t take the time.

    This is such a good idea, because I know I appreciate it when my clients and movement supporters let me know if something is wonky or needs fixed.

    Thanks Marie:)!

  66. Aida

    I’m never a PITA, always show that I rely appreciate any service or effort if someone tried assist me in a shop or on a customer service line. I never have this self righteous customer always right attitude and I notice that people on the other side who are serving you really appreciate it and even go an extra mile to assist you. You get so much more by being nice and appreciative.

  67. I strongly believe that the universe reflects us. That being said, if I want to be treated well, I should treat others well, too. If I’m rude or unpleasant, that’s probably exactly what I’ll get back.

    Sometimes, despite our best efforts, another will still react in a negative way, by being rude, unpleasant or just downright dismissive and unconcerned. But that says a lot more about them than you.


  68. Great Post, Marie! As always perfect timing for me.

    Just this morning I had started going through my list of old clients, consult requests and business contacts to see who I actually would like to work with again, and who I will take off my contact list because they’ve been a P.I.T.A to deal with.

    Before watching your video I was concerned about not being fair and thinking maybe I was the problem rather then them. I think as entrepreneurs we tend to do that, don’t we? Take blame before letting someone else be at fault?

    I’m going to give myself permission to be more aggressive in my weeding out now and really only keeping contact with people I would want to work with again.

    Thank you!

  69. Marie – Thanks for such an awesome topic today! I used to give seminars to fellow employees on the importance of excellent customer service and how to gracefully rise above when the ultimate ‘PITA’ client/customer would rear his/her ugly head and I can tell you that it’s made me see both side of the ‘fence’. I believe it’s helped me be conscious of being the best customer I can as well as, now, the best business owner I can be. Interestingly, It looks as if such great time-saving devices/products such as the microwave, fast food, the internet and smart photos (gotta have in now!!), has led to the down-turn of good customer service – on both ends. We’ve become such an impatient society and we appear to be breeding an even more impatient generation, so your topic on good customer service for both the customer and the business – is HUGE!! I would love to see more on this topic,…if only to get the point across that being nice to each other, no matter which side of the fence you’re on, is not only the right thing to do, but it does come back to you! 🙂

  70. Marie, as usual you are brillz!

    I went to bed last night mulling over a client issue of course with a client who I took on who with a small budget + was super High maintenance. I delivered a gorgeous ring valued way beyond what she paid. In my opinion gave great service and held her hand the entire way.

    Still wasn’t good enough. Her feedback which she sent two months after I shipped, focused on the details of one tiny thing and her lack of knowledge as she blamed me for basically not being able to read her mind. This RARELY happens to me in my business because I edit people out before this happens. It’s just a great reminder that the our DREAM clients are always the ones who trust you, don’t need hand holding and have the budget for the value we offer.

    Lesson learned…she should have just purchased something on Etsy and I should have guided her that way.

    Now on to service my $5000 client who turned into an $8000 client from a google search for bespoke jewelry.

    xo, Tracy

  71. “Hell…I’m on the Pita Scale”
    Copyright 2013 by Jai Louys

    Tell me it’s NOT TRUE…Hated, despised, but “secretly LOVED by ALL of YOU…True?…Who knows…As tears and snot flow from my eyes and nose…1 or 10…Where should I begin…We all make a dish flavorful, right…Spices, seasoning, and the like…Well, “pita’s” are the same, too…I person may “love” what the other may HATE to…Tolerance is the key…Why “blackball” the spices that bring the tastes of life “Pop & Harmony”?…If I’ve ever been a pita with a rating of a 1#…I apologize…It was never my intention to hurt and with “tears” in my eyes…I’m sorry Marie…To you and to all those like you, that were affected by me…”IF” I were rated as that 1#…But, I have “dreams” of turning this around…Back on the email him too list…Like Brandy use to sing, “I want to be down”…I see 10′s in my future and forgiveness in your hearts…No replies or encouraging words from “you” is tearing me apart…We make the flavor of life “Pop”…The spices that float to the top…The up’s and down’s and emotional tugs the forces you not to STOP…So, if I were to rate “Me”…I would be some days at a three…And, others at a eight, when enthusiastic for the date…Today I’m “sad”…I guess it’s better than being “mad”…But, each persons tastes buds enjoy different things that make them “glad”…So, my love goes out to “you”…That fan that sticks it through…Despite the criticism and hater chants that whisper unkind words related to you…Sure, we’ve all been that “pita” rated low and despised a lot…But, despite the errors, because “We ALL have skeletons in our closets”…Well, should I or should I NOT…Okay, I will…They held “rocks” in their hands to harm Jesus…Did that make them “right”…So, embrace the spice…Not to salty and not to bland…Life, business, and love always has the perfect mixture and when it’s “just right” you can tell…I send my sincere “love” to you Marie, your staff, your fans…But…

    “Hell…I’m on the Pita Scale”


    (from the epub by Jai Louys “The Bridal Chamber: Where Dreams Become Reality ISBN# 978-1-4566-1987-9)


    Come close to me, My Love, that you may feel the softness of my lips…As each candle flickers, the warmth of my fingertips press, ever so, gently against your precious skin…Your touch is warm and inviting…Each “kiss”…Each and every “kiss”…Has my heart beating a million miles an hour…”Gorgeous” are your eyes, as you shower me with “love”…”Beautiful” as the Heavens above…”I love you”…So, unconditionally, that there is no woman “thought of” above you…Come even closer, that we may “fuse” like that of a melody composed during an interlude…I need to “kiss” you again and Again and AGAIN…As Adam once did for Eve, during the joyful day’s in the Garden, when they frolicked along in the nude…Spending time with “You” is sweeter than Honeydew…More desirable than sticky raspberry glaze dripped all over “You”…The dimmer of the candles accentuate your sexy silhouette…Our movements are rhythmical, honey, your beautiful bodies soaking wet…So many more hours to go, of loving “You” throughout the night…I pray that Our Lord has heard my prayer, because I hope that there is no end in sight…



    Honey, you lips are yummy, like “Dulce de Leche” smeared across your pretty tummy…As “We” lay around a bed of money…Don’t lose control yet, as you “pucker up”…Ooooh, I’ve found your “comfort zone”…The holy grail of every moan…Three million kisses from head to toe, so “pucker up”…A foot massage and body rubs to ease all the tension…As “I” knew it would and how good relaxation feels when you “pucker up”…Just move at a steady pace…As I adore your beautiful face …Just like THAT…Ummmmm…With direct eye contact…Just LIKE THAT…oooOOOH…


  72. I love these shares! As a business owner, I have policy sheets that I have my clients sign when they first come to see me. The policy sheets outline what the client can expect from me and what I expect from the client. No muss, no fuss. The policy sheets became necessary after a couple clients repeatedly no-showed on their appointments with me. I actually ended up firing them because they really showed me that they didn’t respect my time. I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to continue to give them great service because I was beginning to feel resentful. The policy sheets have been a great addition and have cut down on a lot of hassle for me. Regarding how I am as a client, I’m sure I have my “unconscious moments”. But I really try to be as kind as I can to the people who are providing me a service; they are doing their best and they deserve to be seen and respected. I rarely have a bad experience and often feel like I’ve just made a new friend. Mutual respect Rocks!!!

  73. Lovely as always! Having been in service industry for most of my life, this is a must watch for most customers! No reading part is so common! Being in service industry helps me being more conscious about being a better customer myself.
    BUT when I used to take birth control pills I once yelled at the pharmacist uncontrollably because those pills were no longer in generic version. I then turned around, apologized and explained those were the pills making me crazy. I never took those pills again )))

  74. I was getting my teeth cleaned this morning and felt a cough coming on. moved my head away from the hygienist, covered my mouth and coughed. She was shocked! “How considerate and sweet of you! You have no idea what happens right in front of my face while I’m working.” Seriously, I thought! How inconsiderate – guess that’s what you would call pita-behavior, Marie.

    • Lol Nice one, Karen!
      Now if I can only get my 2-year old to follow your considerate technique 🙂

    • haha! Oh geez . . . that seems like common sense for your average adult . . . but if that was her reaction, I shudder to think what sort of atrocities her face is subject to on a daily basis.

      Regarding PITA behavior, I’ll admit I’ve had my share of moments, but really, who hasn’t? There are plenty of fantastic companies providing excellent customer service, but unfortunately, I guess some companies take the stance that it’s too difficult/time-consuming/costly to weed out the rudeness and properly train their employees.

      Big companies that DO rock their customer service out: Adobe, Apple, Amazon, Chipotle, Zappos. But not everyone is like them.

      In situations where I later find that my temper got the best of me, the shame I feel after the fact (hindsight is 20/20!) makes me want to crawl under a rock. Unless, of course, the company really did just suck at customer service.

  75. Hotels have been rating customers for years…and it is said that they have a database…

  76. I think anyone who’s ever worked in customer service will tell you that the customer is most certainly not always right. Speaking of ‘pitas’ your video really made me laugh today because I used to work at Wendy’s, back when they actually sold pitas. That wasn’t yesterday, around 2001. One night someone got their pita made wrong and they actually came back to the counter and threw it at us. One girl had pita all in her hair. The customer was thrown out! Had they just come back and requested another one we would have been happy to make it.
    So, you know, sometimes you shower the pitas you love with love. Sometimes you just get a pita shower! 😉

  77. Layla

    I just LOVE this, and as a matter of fact I was dealing with a PITA for the last month. What is unfortunate is that this customer is my friend, and he was crossing boundaries with me. It was hard because I was afraid that if I stood up for myself, or disagreed with him, that he would not work with me. I decided to tell him that, and I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. I also gained his respect.

  78. As a coach when a client is challenging I ask myself where am I being challenging. What can I do to make this better? I also see if this is a pattern for them and perhaps it is.

    We always stick by the policies and make sure they understand. Like any relationship it’s 100% for both sides. For a program having someone not paying totally felt wrong and had to take steps to gently discuss this.

    There is room for this and love how Uber does this…

  79. Kristen

    I am a bartender/waitress and have been in this industry for over 10 years now and I would love to be able to rate my customers that I serve. They can be so rude, lack understanding and compassion. We all have our DIVA days and frustrated moments especially when u have been dealing with an automated system and finally reach a person …. But with the right tools I can usually turn bad days into good moments, but I can’t turn bad customers into good ones! I sometimes wish that everybody had to serve at a restaurant for at least 6 months so they would understand what goes on really!

  80. Brenda

    Absolutely! It comes down to the old, Treat others as you want to be treated.
    When we don’t treat businesses with respect, or people in businesses with respect, we don’t deserve their service/product.
    Great topic Marie! Change the world baby!! 🙂

  81. Layla

    It is hard when you have to be nice or accomodating, otherwise you will lose the business. Many people have gotten accustomed to our capitalist society and feel entitled and arrogant, because there will be some business out there that will put up with their bs. When you need the money, how do you put people in their place and NOT lose the customer?

  82. Anne Hartmann

    Happy greetings from Denmark. Just love this perspective of being a “good” customer. Never thought about it this way, but I think it is about time we do. Never again will I think the thought: “the customer is always right”; instead, I will continue to make conscious efforts to be a ‘good’ customer. This is not just about products in exchange for money. Rather, it is about contribution, values and relationship. Thanks, Marie.

  83. John

    Loved the video. I’ve always had high expectations as a customer, however, when a product or service under delivers I never resort to acting like an a-hole. I’ve learned that the majority of the time if you keep your cool you’ll get better results. What’s that saying? ..attract more bees with honey..It is hard when you’ve had a bad day and all you want is your coffee made right and you want to scratch the guy’s eyes out for putting too much cream..Ah…Breath…

  84. Rosie P.

    What a brilliant idea! I was toiling over this last week after an incredibly rude customer came in and berated me (I manage a small boutique in the hottest shopping district in Boston) because he didn’t read the fine print and was 1-2 weeks past the refund time window. He demanded a refund, but I offered him a store credit, per the policy on the bottom of his receipt. Here’s what he had to say about it in an email to the store owner:

    “As I indicated earlier today, your return policy is ridiculous. My wife and I have purchased five hundred dollars of items there over the last year and to be this petty over a forty dollar pair of shoes is ridiculous! Most toy and children stores allow 30-90 days or have some wiggle worm. I had referred this store to several friends and expectant moms at my work only a block away, not any more! I have indicated this information on review sites as well.”

    I was questioned (and reasonably supported by the owner-love her!) about the matter to which I replied that I found it interesting that he could spend a large portion of his day, 1) berating staff, 2) writing numerous e-mails back and forth about the subject, and 3) writing on his extensive social networks about the “bad service policy” but didn’t have 30 seconds to review our policy!
    Bottom line: I would LOVE to enact this policy of rating our customers (because most of them are freaking amazing and lovely)- but how do we get started??

    Thank you, Marie, you are incredible!

    • Well, hello there, fellow Rosie!

      I had my first PITA recently. I run a college application editing business and I had gone above and beyond for a client in his mid-30s who was trying to get into grad school, yet he was enraged when I refused to write part of his essay for him. Writing it would have been completely unethical, of course, but he was so angry that he wrote up a negative Yelp review, took a screen shot of it, and threatened to hit “send.” Luckily, he never did.

      I’d love to know how other people deal with negative reviews once they’re posted. Now I think about this every time I work with a client. What’s the best way to deal with them once posted?


  85. This was an awesome post!! I am usually a 9 as a customer and try to be a 10 as a business owner! It is an great question to ask though, because you KNOW people who behave badly as customers and you KNOW they wouldn’t do it in front of people they respect! WOW! EYE OPENER!!!!

    • Ahh! Sarah, I just lost it because we have the exact same name. 😀 Awesome!

  86. Marie, I love how you flipped this one on it’s head. Relationships are a 2 way street, and YES we should be going above and beyond for our customers, but YES our customers should be kind, respectful, and dare I say PUMPED to be our customers too.

    Encouraging people to remember that their is a real, live person on the other end of these communications is important. Great video. Keep ’em coming!

  87. Joseph Tomusange

    Hi Marie,
    I just made a review of this episode; primarily, it wasn’t easy but at last I found my way through and realised that in all the things i do, pita moves do have an aspect in our daily life.
    Thanks so much for your light on the topic.

  88. I love this. I would honestly be an 8 or 9. Or maybe I’m totally delusional? After years of watching my dad (love him, promise!) who is totally a PITA customer if ANYTHING goes wrong, I’m the total opposite. Oh? You totally effed up my order? No prob bob! As long as you’re apologetic and nice about it, you still get a fair tip. If you go over the top? Even better!

    I always pay immediately when I get invoices and both my husband and I are more than understanding in almost every situation. Maybe we’re pushovers, maybe we’re just nice. Who knows. But as a business owner and someone who has had some nightmare customers? I know how NOT to act. I’ve only raised my voice or done anything like that a handful of times in my life and that’s when I feel that I’m truly being treated unfairly.

  89. Oh boy, I hope that rate-your-customer day comes soon! The hilarity that would ensue on Yelp. 🙂

    Restaurant: “I understand from his review that Mr. Smith wasn’t pleased with our service. …And we weren’t particularly pleased with him chewing with his mouth open and spitting lamb curry on the other guests, talking loudly on his phone about his timeshare in the Keys, and wiping his hands on the tablecloth.”

  90. Hi all, there is one thing I’d like to add to this discussion, and that is to just note that the modern world does at times conspire to make being a customer hell! It seems to be getting harder and more frustrating to get anything done over the phone ( and it always is over the phone and it always is to a foreign call centre) when it involves interacting with an interminable phone system that sometimes says ‘sorry we cannot help you goodbye’ after trying for ages to get through to a human being ( your enquiry does not fit any of the options) and when you do get a human, they often don’t really understand you. I recently had a terrible week here in the UK with a huge mobile phone company making endless cock-ups – I did end up the ranting irate customer at the end of the week. I feel that big international companies are always trying to squeeze costs and make YOU the customer do all the donkey work, even though they are making a huge amount of money from you.
    Overall on customer service, I’d rate by self as an 8, for my impeccable manners in restaurants and appreciative loveliness and big smile with everyone who gives me service, (i too have done a lot of restaurant and bar work) but I am sure at times the person on the end of the phone must have labelled me a PITA. I actually feel pretty justified in getting irate on those occasions and feel they would try the patience of a saint!! I always say ‘I realise you are just doing your job, but could you please pass on this feedback to your team leader’ and say thank you for your help, but there is a lot of bureaucratic and stressful alienation in the modern world’s transactions between humans, I think.

  91. Nadya

    I have just thought about that couple of days ago! 🙂
    In the company I work in – I clearly see that there are some customers that are definetly better off without – they take so much more resources than they actually pay for (I mean the customer service they constantly demand), it’s just awfull.
    If I were to open my own company some day – I have decided to agree on giving service only to the customers I WANT, those that DESRVE it 🙂 because I know that in the long run it will only benefit everyone.

  92. I have been an excellent customer and sometimes not. This occurs when I do go out to eat. I have food allergies so I always start out as a excellent customer. I get how overwhelming and that its not easy to wait on someone with a special diet but there are times when I have waited 20-30 minutes for food and they had to take back for the third time that I am a 5 or lower. I try to talk to the manager when I am in and let them know about the excellent or really bad service.

  93. I strive to always be a 10 but probably would rate as an 8. Even when I’m unhappy with service I take a deep breath and consider what I want the outcome to be. There are times I’ve dealt with customer service and I’ve been irate about service. I start with, “this is not personal, but I’m really disgusted with the company’s service”. I had a friend who treated servers and retail clerks with such an aloof and dismissive attitude it embarrassed me. I pointed it out to her once and she consciously made an effort to be more respectful. Sometimes we just don’t think . . . .

  94. KaylaSchroeder

    I would honestly consider myself a 9-10. Something I make a part of my spiritual walking practice is to be kind to as many as possible, as often as possible… especially those waiting on me, or serving me somehow. I feel it’s so extremely important, especially because we all experience the PITA’s in our work and jobs at some point, and I like to think that I intend to show others that true kindness (and patience) exists. From me, it is given quite freely, with love. 🙂 It’s fun, too! I can tell how often some don’t expect it to the extent that it’s given, but learn quite quickly to love and appreciate it.

    Of the points Marie pointed out in her video, I could do better at reading. I do not (actually, most of the time) read through the Terms of Service, because I tend to know the gist of what I’m getting myself into and signing up for (and frankly just don’t want to read it). However, I now have more of a respect for those Terms and will read through them more often. They are there for a reason, after all. 😉

    Thank you, Marie and team Forleo, for all you do and for this message. Always love your videos!

    <3 Kayla

  95. Hi Marie,

    This post caught my eye because I have never thought that the customer is always right. Yes, customers do have legitimate gripes, however, no need to be rude and obnoxious.

    I used to work in a business where the customer,most often, was a teenager. I was a driving instructor and driver ed teacher.

    If you treat others with respect, they will treat you with respect most of the time.

    I enjoyed your post and just had to put my 2 cents in. I try to treat everyone like I would like to be treated.

    I would say that I’m at least a 9 although, there have been a couple of times where it was hard to keep calm.

  96. Excellent video – i think it would be great to rate customers – because as a business owner teaching people how to identify their passion a.k.a unbox your gift – i believe its a great idea to hold customers accountable for their attitude and behaviour equally as business are.

  97. What a great post! I’d rate myself somewhere between an 8-10 as a customer. Connecting to spirit and also having your own business does that for you. 🙂

    Anytime I go somewhere and a waiter/waitress or sales person asks me how I’m doing, I always respond with “I’m great, *how are you*???” They always seem taken aback and usually respond with “I’m great, thank you so much for asking!”

    Or as I’m leaving and they say “have a great day!” I’ll always say “thanks, you too!”

    I don’t think service people hear these things that often. It’s good to be treated like a human being! 😉

    • Ha ha – this is so funny – I do the same thing, and you’re so right about people being taken aback!

      It’s a little bit of a shame that we’ve gotten to the stage where good manners are a surprise, but it does make you feel good 🙂

  98. Great Marie! I’m a 10 for sure but thank goodness Pita’s are few and far between! 🙂


  99. This is great Marie!!
    I was at a birthday dinner just last week and was embarrassed to see one of the guests not only ignoring the waiter asking her if she would like her wine glass topped up from the bottle but also put her hand up to say ‘talk to the hand’ !! 5 minutes before she was almost yelling… ‘gees you have to pour your own wine here!’ Then, I saw this episode of Marie Tv arrive in my inbox and I thought about how I would be rated as a customer at all the places I visit or even on the phone to customer service…I was so shocked at this womans behaviour I tried to be extra nice to the staff and left a larger tip I felt so aweful, no one should be treated that way ever. We all need to watch our actions or more so our reactions 🙂

  100. Since I have my own business, I became a pretty good customer. I adore good business people and learn from them.

    I do know for sure that I was a little rough around the corners in the day, but once you are on the other side, you know what it takes to be in business in the first place.

    With my own clients – I’m putting myself in their shoes. Not always easy when I see that they are in for the free stuff. But I learn from them too, and design my offers accordingly.

    I don’t think that there’s any path without its shaky spots, but after working as a customer service rep. for quite a while, the techniques I learned there help quite a bit.

    I pray that the PITAs won’t knock to my door too often 🙂

    As always, thank you, Marie!

  101. Another great episode, Marie, and another opportunity to up our game.
    But really, the big question I have to ask is:
    Where are you getting those superfantastic clothes?

  102. Ali

    I love this topic! I was in a customer support/service position for the last few years in the company I work with, and boy – Was that a lesson in how to be an amazing customer myself! I learned so much from dealing with dream customers and, the PITA ones 😉

    It inspired me to always be a dream customer when I am being served by someone in the customer support position. I always go above and beyond to be super friendly, appreciative and charismatic, to help make their job that much more enjoyable with some REAL human interaction. People do so often forget, in this technological era, that there is a real human being behind the e-mail address. Just because we can’t see their faces, doesn’t mean they aren’t there and don’t deserve our respect.

    I would rate myself as a 9 on the scale as a customer… And always aspiring to become a 10!

    Thanks for this great video and addressing this topic, Marie!



  103. This is such a great topic! I wish Yelp would offer reviews of both parties!

    There are customers that definitely take advantage of the “no questions asked return policy” and 365 days returns – it’s so sad – and I wish there was an easier way to “fire” them!

    Thank you Marie for another great video!


  104. Fabulous Ep – this one is going up on my business FB page x

  105. Awesome video Marie! So my question is, when you have a PITA that you can’t seem to train by setting boundaries (I was working with someone earlier this year and despite explaining my payment terms and timeframes for feedback several times verbally, then outlining them in an email, and she seemed to conveniently ignore or forget all of it), how can you ‘fire’ them as a customer?

    Eventually I stopped offering that service, which was how I let her go, but I would have liked to have done it months earlier, had I known how.

  106. Awesome as usual, Marie! If it’s a Hell No, it’s gotta go!

  107. I think though the customer service people provide is not as good as it was in the past! I also think business should spend more money on customer service in knowing how to deal with people. I really think you need to try to win over customers and you may be losing more than one customer in the process and social media can even hurt that business even more.

  108. Danielle

    I loved this. I firmly believe being a better customer gets you better service. People like working with people who are easy to work with.

    I strive to give all my clients the very best and to go above and beyond to understand and meet their needs. However, I have one client who constantly changes the scope of work or asks us to change around deadlines but is never willing to pay the additional fees that a rush request incurs. Most of her changes in scope are no small task and can also impact the quality of service my company provides. It’s not my call to say yes, as I’m at the bottom of the food chain, but I see it as a big problem.

    I believe that we teach people how to treat us. After having to bend over backwards in the hopes of winning this big contract that this client was dangling as a carrot, the big contract never materialized. Sometimes when businesses don’t have respect or confidence in what they do they allow themselves to be treated “any old way” – like a desperate girl clinging to a guy who’s on the fence about her. With this PITA client I never once even received a “thank you” or a confirmation of receipt, even on urgent projects. In fact one time she emailed me 2 months after delivered a project to her to ask if we’d ever sent it — and yes, it was a project for which she’d moved the deadline up to “urgent”. It doesn’t surprise me that the big juicy contract never truly materialized. Business can be just like dating, people can smell when companies lower their standards and act desperate, which is why I completely believe in giving your best to your clients, but also having respect for your own hard work and standards. The customer is not always right.

  109. I really liked this post. As someone who works in retail, I experience a myriad of customer service issues all the time. Lots of consumers come in and don’t read the signs about our curfew policy or about the deals we have each week. And when we TELL them about our policies, they often get offended and angry (sometimes yelling at us or our managers) even though there are signs where you first come into the building. But people DON’T READ those signs! Even when we had a very large banner, no one read it. o.o”

    So yeah, lots of PITAs.

    Something I’ve started doing is approaching a manager if I received good customer service. If a worker was particularly helpful, I spoke to a manager and told them about it. I’ve even started to e-mail entrepreneurs whose newsletters I get and complimenting them that way (or via Twitter).

    As a consumer, you’re literally consuming tons of information, products, services and experiences at all times. And there are a multitude of ways to show your appreciation for that specific person or thing.

  110. Marie,
    Leave it to you to bring this insight to the world. Sure made me think. I spent 15 years supervising nurses and they were so tired of having to take abuse in the name of customer service. I know you have to have compassion for people going through tragedy and hardship. However some of them were just Pitas and had no respect for boundaries. I don’t have an answer but I have a new question. How funny – the first time you had a tweetable QUESTION.

  111. This definitely hit home, because we all can be better customers. And as a customer, we really need to pick our moments. I figure you get a only a set number of times in life to have a first class, foot stomping terrible two style hissy fit to get the job done. And even then, you can do it in a way that isn’t about the person you are dealing with.

    Hopefully I’m about an 8.5.

  112. I agree in so many ways what was said in your latest video….. for many years I have worked in the department of customer service …and I’ve gotten so many calls where I got yelled at on the phone. It turned out that the most of them haven’t read our customers terms.

    I don’t know why but most of the times I stayed very calm and explained all the details and told them to always read the customer terms where you get all the information when to pay and even when to have to cancel a contract and on what terms.
    Most of the customers apologized to me for being so rude at the beginning….so it is true always READ first!

  113. Laura

    Hi Marie! That was a very insightful video and thank you for sharing as always! I am very happy to say l am a good Pita with over 100 stars on Ebay:)

  114. Customers seem to be more polite on line, in the shop they feel they can barge in front of other customers to get a price, ask multiple questions before one has had a chance to answer even one, tear open packets of hosiery to see the inside when there is one out on display on a leg, open drawers as if they were in their own home and they feel it is OK to steal. As you say 99% are brilliant but maybe it is only 80%. They break items and feel it is OK to just walk out and not pay for it. One has to put more and more under lock and key – I guess my other real hate is customers who wear fake tan, try on white bras and only only finds out days later when it has turned orange streaky and the item has to be thrown away. Why do they think they have the right to behave this way?

  115. I think I’m lucky (or too new!) as my customers are all super lovely. In almost 1 year of business, I haven’t run into one PITA. I try to do my best to stop them becoming a PITA by going above and beyond in customer service.

    For myself, I’m a good customer – I write fair reviews, I say thanks, I’m respectful. The only time I turn a little PITA is when I’m traveling and paying a lot of money for service and not receiving it. Airlines are my PITA territory for sure. Trying to breathe through those interactions more and put myself in the shoes of the associate!

    Cheers Marie

  116. Hi Marie,

    I think I rate about an 8. I try real hard to tell people just as much when they’ve done something right if not more so. I lower my rating for not responding well when the customer service rep is a total assh*le, nearly scolding me for my fine print ignorance. Maybe it’s because companies that just accept a certain portion of their customers are going to cost them money that way but are far surpassed by the great customers are the ones I want to deal with.

    My question is how do you deal with a crappy rep when there is no way you’re going to stop dealing with the company (think ebay or amazon here)?


  117. I have been working in customer service for many years and I always hated that phrase “the customer is always right”! I say it is true, but within reason, but say to someone that he’s always right and he’ll soo start to act like he’s superior and doesn’t have to take responsibility for his acts.

    You’re so right about reading, I work in a store where we frequently have promotions like buy one get the second half off, and all they register is the half off part.

  118. Great advice! We should all learn to treat each other the same as we want others to treat us…with respect! love your videos:)

  119. There’s more than enough “blame” to go around when it comes to being a good customer, or being a PITA. As a business owner, I’ve had to deal with the very large clients who pull all sorts of BS tricks to delay paying – sometimes large bills. One company solved the “problem” of collection calls by hiring a deaf person to handle payables. The only way to communicate? US mail or fax. And then there was a major multinational company that stuck me (and dozens of other contractors) by cancelling Purchase Orders on December 31 making it impossible to get paid without going to court.

    Fortunately these types of behaviors are being dropped by many companies, but there are some larger companies that systematically disrespect their customers. In these cases, I am careful to differentiate between the company and the person on the phone. I express my irritation with the company while explicitly telling the phone representative that I regret that they have to hear this message but their COMPANY has acted badly. For example, I lived at one address for a few years and subscribed to cable TV there. I closed my account and left the state for another job. Six years later I received many collection calls for a recent customer at my old address. When asked why they had contacted me, the rep said “well this is your address so you have to pay.” My response? A polite “you’re a very pleasant on the phone. I’m sorry that you have to hear this. But, I’ve already sent ‘company name’ documentation that I closed my account six years ago and haven’t lived there for the last six years. Please make a note of that on this account. Would you please transfer me to your supervisor? I’d like to tell them what a pleasant person you have been dealing with this very irritating matter.”

    You can be firm and even unpleasant with a company while still being nice to the phone rep.

  120. I LOVE the idea of rating customers!! So, I have definitely been a PITA customer, mostly when I’ve felt like I was part of a herd. For example, when flying. I’ve rarely felt like anyone at the airlines feel like I am a person, but more like part of a herd. I mean, they overbook flights ON PURPOSE, so if you lose your seat, oh well, they don’t care. It’s not like you have anywhere to go or anything.. So do I freak out a little, yes. Do I send nasty tweets, sorry, but I do.

    However, when treated like an individual I’d give myself a platinum star. Before asking about a policy, I’ll go to FAQ’s because I know how much of a PITA it can be to have to repeat the same answer to people over and over again because they don’t take the time to find the answers that are clearly, right in front of them.

  121. Stephanie

    Wow! Thank u Marie for bringing up this topic.
    I am the owner if two businesses…both very different in nature;)
    I am a General Building Contractor (yep..Lil ol me gets out there & swings a hammer from time to time with my crew too lol)
    and I own a lil Gift Shop. So, I am all too familiar with the “Customer Service” scene & love what I do!
    I also find great customer service crucial…however, I find it troubling at times that there is so much “bad publicity” in the news & going around about building contractors, but very rarely (if at all) hear about those customers who don’t pay us for our services or give us contractors a hard time by being hard to please even when we do exactly as agreed & sometimes beyond.
    I also have had experiences lately with numerous customers asking me to greatly reduce my costs (which I keep low as possible due to the shape of the economy to help in some way).
    I think if both sides of the deal, customers and contractors, were “rated” there may be a little change in point of view. At least to show that there is good & bad on BOTH sides.

  122. First, you are a crack up. OMG!!! I was feeling off today and had not listened to this week’s show and got the lift I was looking for. Thank you. Second, great dress:)!!! Wooo hooo. Fourth, I am going to the EIA meeting and would love to meet you! That is my dominant intention for the entire event, other than hugging Chris Atwood:) Finally, great content as always! And I was called a PITA growing up. Yeah, major healing issues done on THAT one:) LOL. Thanks, Marie!

  123. Losing our humanity in the midst of a business transaction is never okay. We must bring more kindness and compassion to the business world as we become more conscious in our business and life. That’s why I co-created, a software productivity app to help entrepreneurs get more organized. Lack of organization leads to being overwhelmed. And being overwhelmed is stressful, which can lead to unreasonable and irrational behavior.

  124. BC

    I often think the blame lies companies for creating situations where their support staff on the frontlines are exposed to PITAs. *Anyone* would be a PITA after 20 minutes of horrid phone menus and issues not tracked across staff/departments, staff without the resources or decision-making power to help customers effectively, and customer service seen (and funded) as useless overhead. Want fewer PITAs yelling at your staff, try calling your own help line and see if it makes your blood boil.

  125. I own and operate an Airbnb bed and breakfast in NY. One of the things I love about the company is that we also review guests and we have a chance to reply to any negative reviews. Sometimes you ask the guest if everything is ok, they say no problem.. but then they post oh I didn’t have enough of this or that.. which I could resolve instead they make it a comment on their reviews. I have over 200 reviews and the ones I remember the most are the, very few, not positive reviews. I want to provide the guests a wonderful stay in my home, but they need to communicate if something isn’t working.

    I also like telling the other hosts if a guests didn’t follow the rules.. ie the drunk girl who brought a stranger to the house.

  126. O

    While, on the whole, I agree that everyone getting reviewed is a great development, it needs to be implemented carefully to protect both sides and future customers/business owners. As Evelyn mentioned above, AirBNB has this feature as well. One problem with it is if one side can wait to leave feedback after seeing the other side’s feedback. This can lead people to be less-than-honest (and thus less-than-helpful) feedback about negative or even mixed experiences, in the interest of getting positive reviews themselves.

  127. As a customer, I can be pretty rude on the phone, especially when speaking to anyone from my internet provider service. I bet they would probably rate me as a 5! Overall, I would say I’m a 7. I think working in the service industry is one of the best ways to teach you to be a kind and compassionate customer and to speak your concerns directly rather than hiding behind anonymous reviews and bashing the business you’re reviewing.

  128. Ann

    Wow! this would be a drastic change. Many companies currently keep notes on their clients i.e. birthdays, special events. Should the time come to rate the customer I sure hope the remarks are favorable or the business can count on that client not returning. Without the customer, it would be difficult for the business to succeed.

  129. In my current BJ (bridge job) I am a CS rep for a call center. You wouldn’t believe the stuff I hear. I want to give a big hug to any rep that I’ve ever been mad/frustrated at.

    So yes, it does change the way I interact with people.

    I’m sorry, CS reps. I have walked a day in your shoes.


  130. Sally

    Thank you for saying that the clients that make you chase them up for their payments are robbing you twice – time is so valuable in small business. I would much rather be doing something to help a client in my commitment to them, than spend time reminding them of their commitment to me. And you know, I like to feed my family and stuff, too.

  131. Not to toot my own horn but I have been in the customer service industry for over 30 yrs. I think I am a 9 when it comes to dealing with people in the “real” world. If I have a situation I love handling it with the three F’s of management. These three f’s work in almost every situation.
    Want to know what they are?
    Email me and I will give them to.

    PS Love your dress Marie. It is so flattering.Not that you need any help with that as you are so beautiful.

  132. What a fantastic video and great food for thought!

    Being a great client is every bit as important as being a good service provider. I always try to treat my service providers with the utmost respect. My baristas love me because they know I’m going to tip well and always have a smile on my face.

    I love the idea of a place where you can rate clients. Two sides to every story gives a more well rounded picture. I would LOVE that for my industry.

  133. Thank you sooo much for this topic!!! I worked in retail for a few years and I cannot tell you the amount of pitas I came across. It definitely got me thinking that this “the customer is always right” jazz was a bit of hooey because if someone can treat another human being so callously for ANY reason, how can that be right? I unfortunately worked for a company that would not budge on the notion of the customer is always right and just told us to suck it up whenever we were treated horribly (this was also a company that didn’t really care about its employees, but that’s another story). While we were pushed to get customer feedback all the time, I wondered what it would be like if we could provide our own feedback about customers or even refuse service to horrible ones, just like you mention in the video. I’d heard of companies out there that refuse service to bad customers all the time and they have that right (I mean, they run the business, not their customers, after all).

    Most of the pitas I came across usually made a big stink just to cause a scene and force us to give them a huge discount they didn’t deserve so they would shut up and leave. Refusing cheater customers like that should definitely become a regular practice for all types of companies instead of kissing people’s bums so they won’t lose any business. What kind of business are companies really holding on to when cheater customers want a handout every time they visit? Plus, how might it look to good customers when a company keeps catering to bad customers who disrupt everyone else’s visit?

    All in all, I am still grateful for the experience because it definitely makes me check myself and avoid resorting to pita customer behavior. Thank you again for voicing this new view because we sometimes get lost in age-old adages and sayings that are beginning to become outdated and don’t always ring true 🙂

  134. Victoria

    As a nurse, I am used to being kind and service-oriented even when a patient is puking on my shoes (really!) 🙂

  135. Kim

    Love this topic and comments. What I have found with sites that allow both sides to review is that you have an “okay” experience people don’t necessarily want to mention the bad, because they, in turn, want an excellent review of themselves. So, even if the interaction wasn’t “excellent”, both parties will review as such in hopes to get an “excellent” review themselves. If things are bad, you certainly hear about that too (then that person just creates a new account, ha ha). Great idea, in theory, but with so much anonymity online it is just too easy (for customers) to create a new account to flee from bad reviews…fresh new start with every bad review. Not so easy for the business.

  136. Love it – accountability for stellar customer service is a two-way street! Plus it makes for a better world all around – ah, try patience and kindness…my motto!

  137. Brilliant post Marie – has definitely got me thinking about how I can be a better customer =) Thank you!

  138. Hello Marie et al,

    On my best days I would say that I’m a level 8 customer and otherwise a 6-7. I wouldn’t rate myself higher because 1) there’s always room for improvement and 2) because I do think that the burden of responsibility for creating a positive experience is on the business. When a business exceeds my expectations, I will gladly sing its praises and respond as a level 10 customer.

    I like to think of any business interaction as a potential learning experience, whether it’s learning what not to do or how to really make customers feel special. Patience, taking responsibility for your role, and common courtesy go a long way to keeping everyone happy.

  139. Ann

    Oh how I LOVE you! Coming from 20 years in retail (where the customer was always right), and now dealing with my own direct sales business–so many people feel like I’m going to turn myself into a pretzel just for their benefit/whim/whatever.
    I’m always willing to give great customer service; and I always do my best to be a good customer–but anyone who takes advantage of my good nature will not be hearing from me again.

  140. All kinds of Amens on this one Marie!!!

  141. Sherry

    I am all about boundaries with customers. What I say is that people actually want boundaries. And I think it is our job as business owners to set up expectations for clients. I will say that anyone can have a bad day, but be a pita to me twice and I don’t need your money anymore. As far as being a customer, I do expect companies to give excellent customer service. I often say no isn’t going to work for me. It doesn’t have to be my solution, but there has to be something that you can help me with. I could let it go, but then I won’t be buying from them again. I am kind but not afraid to ask.

  142. Kim

    I love this topic. I had to fire a customer once. It was just after I opened my boutique and every customer counted. After several visits, I realized she wasn’t ever going to love my products, so I didn’t want to invest in her education. I will admit it FREAKED me out but it helped me define who I thought my perfect customer was.

    A few days later, the perfect customer came into the store and this person loved my products so much she ended up working with me. I believe this happened because I knew what I was looking for and appreciated it when I found it.

    My customer service motto: “The customer is not always right. It is our job to make them think they are.” Even if that means letting them go. 🙂

  143. Great question! We always look at how we can be better as a service provider, so awesome to see the other side of what customers can do!

  144. What a fresh perspective, Marie! Do you mind if I include this in the upcoming customer service guidebook I’m co-authoring?

    Many B2B businesses do rate clients already at least in terms of financial credibility and if you are a grade-A PITA with low credit scores you get to pay extra or may even get denied service altogether. I really don’t see why this couldn’t extend into B2C in the future. Credit card companies, finance, insurance & telcos certainly grade their customers already and it gets easier to profile customers online everyday.

    Being a PITA gives you bad business karma. I know some B2C providers secretly charge some clients a PITA-premium, which can be quite a lot. I’ve seen the price of being an a**hole client go up to hundreds of thousands in business transactions…I kid you not.

    The customer isn’t always right, but they are always the #customer (unless you fire them for being too much of a PITA, in which case both parties pay the price for the life they choose). What goes around comes around.

    • Attitude is contagious and if I have a PITA attitude as a customer, I do make the service provider sweat more than necessary. But it goes both ways. And if they are a customer service professional they will be able to deal with PITAs regardless, mainly due to their service attitude superpowers.

      I find that being an awesome customer (and maintaining an appreciative attitude even if the service professional I’m dealing with is being a PITA) often gets me better-than-average customer service.

      Of course even getting crappy service doesn’t grant me magical rights to be a PITA myself, but I must admit it does lower the threshold of PITA-retaliation somewhat. Mostly I’m between a 7 and 10 but on a really bad day I can be a 5. Most of the time I’ll just direct my purchases & energy elsewhere with little fuss.

    • Tunde

      Oooooo, I totally love the idea of charging a premium for PITA

  145. Max

    Love this post. Thanks a lot Marie.

  146. Marie,

    Firing a PITA client can be a liberating thing – if done well. But there’s risk associated with cutting off a client besides loss of income from them.

    Just as good news travels between like-minded people, bad news (being fired by a supplier) travels even faster. Unfortunately even more folks hear of the bad news than ever hear of the good news. Some of the “bad news” is repeated by the offended party (the PITA client) to their close friends. Even more can make the underground circuit in no time flat, but with a spin against you as the supplier. Unfortunately, there’s precious little that one can do as a supplier in these circumstances. Start the “he said – she said” game and your business will likely suffer beyond the single firing.


  147. Lakeisha

    I can become a PITA, but that’s only if I get someone who is very disrespectful or talk to me like I have no intelligence. I don’t know how many times I’ve actually had to put some one in there place because they assumed my sweet face allowed them to run over me. Basically, what I’m saying is that my PITA depends on how I’m being treated by a business or the person.

  148. Ooohhh! I loved this theme.

    I’ve had my share of PITA clients, LOL. Through the years I’ve learned that my peace is more important than being right or than any money.

    I’m not a PITA client if I feel I’m not getting the service I deserve for the money I pay I simply take my wallet elsewhere, no buts ifs whens or complaints.

    Though I must admit I do believe feedback does make businesses give better service but I figure there are plenty of PITAS in the world that will complain on my behalf so I don’t waste my time or energy in doing so 😉

  149. I always love thanking businesses who are on point and do something exceptional. Instead of making it as if they “should” just be that way, I know there is a whole lot of mediocre out there so when I deal with someone exceptional I say so.

    One day a while back I went to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and the guy was super warm and uplifting and I told him so. He made me smile and changed my mood..

  150. Doris

    Truth is, I don’t want to be a 10 customer. I don’t want to have a 10/10 service either. Sometimes I meet shop assistants who throw roses at me with banana smile. They creep me out and I escape as quickly as I can. I don’t want to buy anything from a company that turns people into robots. I’d rather make deals with customer service with human emotions. They can smile or not, be mildly pleasant or just neutral, if they’re not in the mood to be pleasant. And I would do the same. Or course, I have days when I’m a super pita. Usually in response to someone being heartless, in a “you should’ve read our stupid inhuman regulations” way. Not that this makes my response acceptable. I should definitely remember to see people in customer service and respect them no matter what, but like I said, I’m not aiming for 10, unless “10” stands “more or less correct”.

  151. Bless you Chica! Absolutely love the idea we could (can) rate our customers. What would that look like to have a BCB (Better Customer Bureau) to monitor all the facets of a transaction from a sellers point if view. Hmmmm…..I’m guessing some accountability would be fantastic and would humble folks that beat us up on price, or as you said, don’t pay. Regardless, that level of assessment could only help people understand how their actions treat others. But then again, it is America….and who would want to do that? Lol
    I enjoy your Tuesday video creativity.

  152. Laura

    I travel a lot (for fun) and see a fair amount of Pita’s both at the airport and at hotels. True, travel is stressful and it’s a real test when surprises take place (delayed flights, weather, lost luggage, lines at immigration, etc.) but fascinating/alarming to see the reactions. Unfortunately, cussing out the desk agent doesn’t help anyone – as if the young agent can control the flight or weather. I’ve had good luck (upgrades! nice hotels! interesting people!) and smooth experiences and attribute part of it to travel karma and part of it to just keeping calm/quiet. If a hotel does have any extras, I’m sure they’d rather give it to someone who is dressed decently (b’c that’s a part of travel too and the respect you give their establishment and service) and calm instead of someone throwing a tantrum. If it doesn’t work out, I’ve had success with a politely worded letter to management – not a rant on trip advisor.

  153. I sell digital products and yes, I have a blacklist! I thought it was just me who didn’t tolerate the-take-all-my-time customers. Thanks, Marie!

  154. I think it’s sad that larger retailers such as Kohls have such liberal customer service policies. They are enabling poor behaving customers to perpetuate the behaviors that cost the business real money. Hold your customers accountable the very same way they expect accountability from us. It took me nearly 10 years of running my business to learn that not every customer is good for my business. I really don’t mind when PITAs don’t return. They suck time, money, and resources away from my best customers who deserve my attention!

  155. Hi Marie,
    Thank you for this lovely post. I completely agree with you. I think a lot of people feel “entitled” for everything that they forgot the Golden Rule.

  156. I live in the Netherlands. Everyone is considered equal. Therefore customer service is not in the culture. You never” serve” someone. Therefore you do not tip people either or hardly. Coming from the US I had a lot of trouble adjusting. So the person serving you at a table could tell you: ” No you have not been waiting half an hour” when they forget to serve you! Most my US friends here are extra nice and polite to sales people, waiters, etc…but it rarely is so the other way around. They just think niceties is BS…We, as clients, are being rated all the time. I dread the day that will come to the US too! Unless they are nice to nice customers at least!

  157. Tunde

    Brilliant episode, Marie!! In our online business (legal services), 99.9% of our clients are also fabulous, amazing, wonderful, very cool, charming, …. I could go on. But we have certainly had our share of PITAs — do any business long enough and you’ll definitely meet all kinds. I’m impressed that you’ve covered most of the “types” in this short video. I actually did laugh out loud at “me no read.” We have to explain a lot in writing (at least half our work is client education), and the “me no read” client is the bane of our existence.

    We don’t have a formal policy for who gets shown the door (politely but firmly), and we don’t cut somebody loose lightly, so we’ll keep working with someone who may be a PITA as long as they have some redeeming quality (e.g., they won’t read anything you send them, but they pay up quickly or they’re just really fun to work with). The one thing we absolutely won’t tolerate is abuse — rare, but it happens. The first client I ever fired reamed me out up one side and down the other about something he hadn’t in fact read. I waited calmly till he was finished ranting, and then I said something like, okay, I’ll be sending you a full refund then, and you’ll have to find another lawyer. Boy, was he taken aback! Tried to talk me out of it, but I stood my ground. NOBODY has the right to yell at us. Ever.

    Since we’re a team, if one of us is really fed up with a client, the first thing we try is passing them on to another member of the team. Often that works because the new team member doesn’t have the emotional charge that comes from having dealt with someone who has started to really bug you. If nobody can work with a client, then we do fire them. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the perks of being your own boss. Life is too short to spend precious hours on folks who don’t appreciate the service you’re providing. We’d rather spend them on folks who do.

  158. Tunde

    Brilliant episode, Marie!! In our online business (legal services), 99.9% of our clients are also fabulous, amazing, wonderful, very cool, charming, …. I could go on. But we have certainly had our share of PITAs — do any business long enough and you’ll definitely meet all kinds. I’m impressed that you’ve covered most of the “types” in this short video. I actually did laugh out loud at “me no read.” We have to explain a lot in writing (at least half our work is client education), and the “me no read” client is the bane of our existence.

    We don’t have a formal policy for who gets shown the door (politely but firmly), and we don’t cut somebody loose lightly, so we’ll keep working with someone who may be a PITA as long as they have some redeeming quality (e.g., they won’t read anything you send them, but they pay up quickly or they’re just really fun to work with). The one thing we absolutely won’t tolerate is abuse — rare, but it happens. The first client I ever fired reamed me out up one side and down the other about something he hadn’t in fact read. I waited calmly till he was finished ranting, and then I said something like, okay, I’ll be sending you a full refund then, and you’ll have to find another lawyer. Boy, was he taken aback! Tried to talk me out of it, but I stood my ground. NOBODY has the right to yell at us. Ever.

    Since we’re a team, if one of us is really fed up with a client, the first thing we try is passing them on to another member of the team. Often that works because the new team member doesn’t have the emotional charge that comes from having dealt with someone who has started to really bug you. If nobody can work with a client, then we do fire them. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the perks of being your own boss. Life is too short to spend precious hours on folks who don’t appreciate the service you’re providing. We’d rather spend them on folks who do.

    Oh, and by the way, working for myself has made me a muuuuuccchh better customer. I’m much nicer to everybody now, even cell phone company customer “service” people, and on the other hand I’m much more assertive and demanding when someone simply isn’t delivering service, and on the third hand, much more likely to praise someone when they do (and put it in writing and send it to their boss).

    • Tunde

      oops, sorry for the duplication — got an error message the first time and thought it didn’t connect

  159. does this also. I love it! It’s an alternative to VRBO. I love when customers get rated – I think it’s a good policy. And yes, I often skip reading the “return policy” sometimes – always bites me in the ass! Great video, Marie 🙂

  160. haha brilliant! I love the idea of rating your customers! I guess eBay has been doing it for a while, but bringing that offline via smartphones would be great!

  161. Gracelove

    Thank you so much Marie..
    i am so guilty of not reading the whole buyers instructions most of the time.
    time to make a change.

  162. I really love this idea. As an owner of a service organization that works so hard to please our customers – we get verbally assaulted on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Very cool stuff.

  163. Great segment for me. I had that one BEEEEYOTCH customer years and years ago. Nothing I said to correct the situation was good enough for her. Then she posted a negative review on google. You can’t have them removed so I’ve made sure customers that really want to leave a review find it easy to do.
    What I took away from that situation is I needed a contract and fine print so that BEEEEYOTCH customers wouldn’t show up in my business in rare form again. The second thing I took away from that situation was I was acting like an amateur not having a contract for every customer to sign as a Professional now every customer signs one and is glad to do so. Therefore I turned that into a good lesson is business and moved on.

  164. YES! Such a good reminder to recognize the person on the other end of the phone during a customer service call that you just have to make. Hate to admit it, but I can definitely be a PITA. I would say I am about a 6.5 right now. I don’t always put in the extra effort to be nice and/or understandable to the person the other end of the phone. Therefore I think just saying thank you for your time and thank you for taking my call might be a better than normal PITA move. Honoring their help, may just make the experience better and also get faster results too. Thanks Marie!

  165. De

    I really feel this one! I have an online product based business on Etsy and my own site. On Etsy, the ratings are difficult to dispute. Most people are fair, give me a chance to make it right if something didn’t work and give me excellent ratings. But some of them give me really bad reviews that are not deserved. Many times they didn’t read the instructions or ordered a lower priced smaller sized item rather than paying the price for the item they need. I have to constantly watch how I handle them. They hold the threat of a bad rating over my head. So, rather than hold them to my stated policies, I often let them get by with cheating me because it is cheaper than a bad review.

  166. Natalia

    I don’t like this tit-for-tat thing where a business can judge a customer – especially when that business is many people and lots of money versus 1 person.

    Marie, it seems that you have changed your perspective a lot from 2012 (a video about handling negative reviews) where the focus was not on the ego (or team), but on love, kindness, humanity.

    The relationship between a business and a customer is rather special in that the customer gives the business both money AND the most precious asset: his/her time. While for the business, well, it’s just a complaint and then back to business as usual.

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