Many people, including myself, automatically think of "the client is always right" when talking capitalism, but that's not correct. In fact, capitalism is defined as "an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state"; profit is the only goal or driver of the system, even for different systems, which might be controlled by the state, for example. Every social or legislative characteristic of a particular political system is just a patch that tries to fix from outside what is obviously a ridiculously simplistic concept.
Even so, we still cling to the idea that we are "served" by companies, like we are some sort of aristocrats being catered for by legions of servants. There is a logic to that, as when a company stops catering to their clientele, they are supposed to lose it. But that's just an illusion. In fact, this only happens if some very specific conditions are met:
- the client is aware of the bad service, meaning:
- they know what they're supposed to get
- they know what they are getting
- there is an alternative to the service, meaning:
- there is at least another company able to meet the requirements
- the company is accessible to the client
- the cost of access is reasonable
- the client is allowed to access the competitor
- the client knows the competitor exists
- the client wants to get better service, meaning:
- there isn't too small of a difference between various services (subjective perception that all companies are the same)
- the effort of changing the service is not too large (subjective perception of effort)
- the emotions of the client do not bind them to the company (subjective perception of the company)
Now, all of the points above require not only effort, but persistent effort. One needs to get the necessary knowledge and then keeping up to date, avoiding misdirection and obfuscation, then make decisions and then take action. But even so...
A company is usually a client of other companies. In my job I am usually hired by companies who do management of people for other companies that need software, with any number of intermediaries and internal chains of command inside each. One might think that because the end client is paying for the entire chain, we should all care about what they want. But we do not! And here are a few of the reasons:
- the client does NOT know what they want, therefore they will never be aware of what they're supposed to get
- the client has spent considerable effort in creating a relationship between them and the company that provides them with the software, therefore the effort of changing to another provider is quite forbidding
- the client has spent considerable effort in creating a relationship with just one company, because they don't want to handle ANY of the responsibilities that company is supposed to handle, therefore they are not in contact with competitors
- the chain of command inside the client is made up of people who have personal connections with the company in question, so changing to another provider would be in their detriment, therefore the client is not allowed to change to another provider
- the company itself is not providing a better service because it doesn't have to, for the same profit; their competitors think alike, so there is absolutely no reason to change
- there is an intermediary system to measure productivity: instead of getting paid for value, the company gets paid for hours worked, for example
- a smaller nimbler company might rise to provide the same service for less money or a better service for the same amount, but there is point 4. as well as the perception that smaller companies are riskier
- a company might want to change, but be unable to because it depends on other companies or it lacks the necessary competency
- one might be competent inside of a company, but if the company is big enough, they get promoted to other posts until they reach a position were they are not competent enough to be promoted
- clients themselves prefer to cut costs than get better service
This happens at every level from the top - where you feel you might be, to the bottom - where you actually are. And guess what? When you realize the same effort and care that you expect from others should be coming from you, you quickly find reasons not to provide any of them:
- my job is boring, why should I do better?
- my boss is an ass, why should I do better?
- my clients are idiots, why should I do better?
- I never meet my clients, that someone else's job, why should I do better?
- whenever I tried to change something, someone shut me down because they are better positioned than me, why should I do better?
- I am getting paid by the hour, so working faster means less money, why should I do better?
- most of the money from the client remains with the entire chain of people over me and I get the scraps, why should I do better?
- my job is not important for me, it's just a means to support my actual life, why should I do better?
This may appear as a pyramid of interests where you are just a cog in the machine or whatever, but it is not, it's a full circle. You get what you give. The client and the company and the least competent employee is always you. There are no other species of creatures that fill any of these positions. Your boss is human, your employee is human, your client is human. In Romania there is the saying that you're stealing your own hat.
But it's OK. You can't do any better, so why should you do better? You are only human, so why be more human? You are a tiny cog in the machine so why grow larger? Do whatever you want, I don't care.