Dear Business Leaders,
I wonder if I might have a moment of your time to try to straighten out an issue that has been troubling me. I do apologize for presuming on your time like this, given that I’m not going to fork over any money for this consultation. I hear you when you say how competitive you are. How money talks and bullshit walks, or however that charming catchphrase goes. How there’s no free ride. So it is with considerable deference that I approach with my humble request that you Please make up your Zarking minds! Is the customer always right or not?
I keep hearing about the importance of the business model. And I sort of get it. I took a little economics back in high school (and no, not of the home variety). In a world of limited resources, there is no free ride. Ultimately, we all have to convince others to pay for our wares, and if nobody is willing to pay, perhaps we should switch to doing something else. OK, that seems pretty reasonable. I’m a little uncomfortable about it, but I can see that maybe the students are customers. Sort of. If I hold my head to one side and kindof half close one eye. I can at least meet you part way, and recognize that the one’s I’m spending all this time in the classroom for is the students. So if they pay tuition, then that sortof makes them customers.
So the customers are always right, huh? Well then what in the name of the Arkelseizure's nose hairs are they doing in the classroom? I mean, why would anybody pony up big tuition bucks if they are always right? Are they insane? No, that can’t be it, because then they wouldn’t be always right, and therefore, couldn’t possibly be customers. So what gives?
And while I’ve got your attention, here’s another one that troubles me. See, every time I turn around one of you business leaders is going off about how colleges aren’t doing a good enough job with the students (er… customers, sorry). How graduates don’t have the skilz they need to win the brave new future. How most of them struggle to find their own blastopores with both hands and a flashlight.
Seriously? Well, no shit, Sherlock. We coulda told you that little bit of info fer free. After four years of prying open young minds and attempting to force feed them just a soupcon of analytical skill, we have a pretty good idea of their limited rectal detection capabilities. But they’re the damn customers, so in the end, we settle for basic literacy and give em what they paid for – a piece of paper suitable for framing.
And what’s it to you anyway? Here’s a newsflash Rockefeller – You’re not the customer. See, I remember this one little tidbit from my high school economics course, and it’s this: The customer is the one paying the bill. By definition. And that is most assuredly not you. You aren’t paying the universities. You aren’t paying the students. You’ve got no skin in the game. You’re just some schmuck kibitzing on the sidelines. Raving on like some grumpy old man about how nobody has any standards these days, and you just can’t get good help anymore.
So if the customer is always right, then you need to either pay the goddamned freight or Shut the Fuck Up. We might even find common cause here (gadzooks!). I mean, you’re all about standards, and how the market forces shit to get real. We’re all about standards too – how ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re’ really are different. So I’d like to take this chance to reach across the divide and invite you to join with proffies. Get involved in a better college system. There’s all kinds of ways to help.
You could forego some of those generous tax breaks you’re always begging for and lobby for the funds to be directed towards public universities…. No?
Ok then why don’t you sponsor students, and offer scholarships to….
OK, OK, how about this - why not start a program where you sign up students to train for your openings, with the promise of hiring them on successful gradua… All right, All right, no need to get testy!
Hell, why not take matters into your own hands and offer on the job training, tailored to the specific needs you have for your own personnel? You could... wait, what’s so funny?
All right then, YOU think of something. Just make up your damn minds. Coz if you want to piss and moan about the students coming out of universities, you’ll have to put up or shut up. After all, the customer is always right.
I remain etc.,
Rosencrantz A. Guildenstern
Department of Hamster Husbandry
University of Tuktoyaktuk