Bad Customer: Service? 3 Ways To Deal With Bad Customers.
We’ve all been there. When you run a business, you run into customers (that’s kind of the point). But there are times when customer relationships can be trying to say the least. Who are the customers you need to worry about and how can you spot them?
Whether or not you have personal contact with your customers on a day-to-day basis, someone in your team is (or definitely should be!)
Those working in customer-facing roles understand the challenges of dealing with foul-mouthed, ego-inflated, just-plain-rude customers. These people demand the moon on a stick and they want it half price. If you can’t give it to them? They give it straight to you.
Dealing with customers like this can be a real drain on morale, as well as being time-consuming and just not very nice. No one gets paid to take abuse. That’s not what customer service is about.
These are the customers who wear your service like a pair of jeans they bought ten years ago. Perhaps you used to be a good fit for them (or perhaps you never were) but somehow they’re always after something that you just can’t quite get right.
Perhaps it’s just not your area of expertise. Perhaps you used to provide a service but it wasn’t profitable so you refocused your investment elsewhere.
Whatever the problem, these customers are just not getting what they need out of you. This means you’re actually bad for them and this could lead to lots of complaints, either on the phone or on social media, which is bad for you.
That old 80/20 rule means that sooner or later you’re likely to realise that 20% of your customers are driving 80% of your profits. You can’t afford to lose money on non-profitable customers. What do you do with the dead weight? Would you ever fire a customer for not being profitable enough or would you rather shift your attention away from them in the hope that they’ll either take the hint or just kind of stay where they are without saying anything?
How to deal with the Bad Eggs
If you’re the one dealing with your customers on a day-to-day basis, you already have a good idea of who your most difficult customers are. If you are not the one handling most of your customer interactions, why not have a talk with your team. If they haven’t already made you aware of the most tiresome accounts, invite them to do so.
Once you’re aware of your most abusive customers you can take action against the ones who repeat-offend (that is, if you have any).
You don’t pay your staff to take abuse and they won’t thank you for letting them suffer in silence. Negative customer interactions like that can be a real drain on morale if left unchecked and this in turn has its own impact on your team’s attitude to the success of your company.
- Stop rewarding bad behaviour. If when your Bad Eggs call up they are bought off with freebies, discounts and simpering apologies, you’re sending a message you wouldn’t send to naughty children. You are telling Bad Eggs that they can call up and as long as they are as rude as they like, they will get their way. Put a stop to this immediately.
- Address the problem. Make it clear that it isn’t ok for Bad Eggs to speak to your team in an aggressive, rude or condescending manner. If it’s you they’re dealing with, inform them that, unless they stop shouting / swearing / generally being abusive that you will terminate the call and give them a ring back when they’ve had a chance to calm down.
- Fire them. If they won’t listen to reason? Get rid of them. You don’t need that kind of aggravation and neither do your team.
How to deal with the Bad Fits
So you’ve got rid of the Bad Eggs, or you’ve at least shown them back to the line of acceptable behaviour. How can you handle the Bad Fits?
The Bad Fits and the Bad Investments can actually be tackled in much the same way. You simply need to address where your company makes most of its profits.
- Who are your most profitable customers? Identify them. Profile them. Understand them. Why are your top 20% so profitable? What are they buying from you that others are not? What do they all have in common? How can you reach more people like them? These are insights you’re likely to want to share with your marketing team.
- Who are your least profitable customers (the Bad Fits)? Do they all share unrealistic expectations of what you can deliver? Did they join you back in 2000 when you were starting out and almost a completely different company?
- Make a decision. You know where your profits are coming from. You understand why your most lucrative customers continue to use you and you are focusing on driving more business like that. What do you do with your bottom percentile? You may not have to encourage them to leave (Bad Fits may still be profitable). You can simply stop marketing to them and watch them disappear.
How to deal with Bad Investments
And, finally, we come to the customer who just isn’t spending enough money to be worth your time. A harsh reality, but an important consideration for small business owners, who simply can’t afford to waste time and resources working at a loss.
There’s only one thing to do if one Bad Investment is proving toxic for business.
- Encourage them to go to your competition. Make your case clear. Explain why it simply isn’t viable for you to continue the relationship. Don’t be confrontational or personal – explain that it is simply business and that you wish them best of luck in the future. To show there are no hard feelings, why not recommend your nearest competitor?
Is there such a thing as a bad customer? Have you ever had to fire a client yourself? We’d love to hear your experiences! Tweet us @allday_PA or leave a comment below.