Customer Experience News & Trends

5 customers you should probably dump … now

Some customers hinder business more than they help it. No experience will make them happy — and you’re probably better off firing them.

Bottom line: It’s really difficult for front-line employees to serve miserable customers who aren’t even profitable. Even customers who are marginally profitable, but suck the life out of everyone who has to deal with them, aren’t worth keeping.

But you want to have a discerning eye and ear for the kind of customers that really spells trouble for the organization. Once you identify the biggest offenders, you can take tactful steps to let them go, according to Colleen Francis, author of Nonstop Sales Boom.

First things first, these are the customers you want to consider showing the door:

1. King of the Hill

This guy thinks he’s the only customer you have. Anyone who answers his call, text or email is his personal assistant. Quick calls drag into 30 minutes. One-hour sales meetings turn into all-day events. He expects immediate help on weekends and after hours. His expectations are far beyond what any reasonable customer expects.

2. The Ultimatum Maker

She peppers conversations with threats. She assumes she’s an important client, so she’ll threaten to withhold payment, shop around or leave for the competition if she doesn’t get her way.

3. The Foul Mouth

He’s usually angry, and even when he’s happy, he’s salty. He tosses around inappropriate language with employees while trying to make jokes, having everyday conversations and, most certainly, in anger. He often makes employees uncomfortable or flat out insults them with his abusive language. He’s a real morale killer.

4. The Prima Donna

She is better than all of your customers. Just ask her, and she’ll tell you. She believes she’s been with you the longest, spends the most money or gives you the most business. Therefore, she’s entitled to perks, rule-bending and special attention. Her demands are an undue strain on employees and resources.

5. The Excuse Maker

Whether you need a check, a response or paperwork, you can count on getting one thing: an excuse. He has a personally perceived good reason for why he can’t hold up his end of a business relationship. You are there to help customers, but it’s a two-sided relationship. Customers who can’t hold up at least some of the weight — and have excuses for it — aren’t maintaining a good-faith relationship.

Letting go

It may feel cruel or unprofessional to fire customers. But you can’t serve bad customers well either. It’s almost always in both of your best interests to let go — so your front-line people can spend more time helping customers who help your business, and the customer can find someone who meets his needs.

Here’s a plan for cutting ties, according to Francis:

  1. Do it personally. Either call or have a salesperson visit. Thank them for their business and explain that you don’t think you’re a good fit going forward. Keep the conversation focused on meeting their goals, and how, under the current circumstances, you won’t be able to do that. Say, “Thanks for working with us. At this point, it doesn’t look like we’re the right fit to help you meet your goals.”
  2. Remain professional. Avoid telling them all the things they’ve done wrong. Focus on their future success.
  3. Recommend options. This shouldn’t be a quest to hurt your competition by recommending they go there. It should be a sincere effort to direct them to another outlet — perhaps an online one that’s a little less hands-on.

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