You’ve put out your best product, you’ve given great value and you’ve delivered beyond all expectations, yet your customer is continually unsatisfied and may even refuse to pay you. Unfortunately this will occasionally happen, and there are few situations that feel worse. You care, you want to make it right, but unfortunately, it seems that maintaining a profitable transaction is no longer a possibility. Or is it?
We all know a bad customer when we see one. They are likely to complain a lot, demand extra resources and care that you can’t afford to provide, and erode the morale of your employees. Unfortunately, many small businesses are so concerned about making sales when they can that they think they have no choice but to cater to every wish of these customers.
Have you ever had a seemingly great relationship go bad? Of course we all have. What I want you to think about, is what made that supposed perfect new client go bad. It’s easy to recall what they did that made you question the relationship and wonder if you accepted the new client against one or more of your core values. What is difficult, but the right thing to do first, is analyze yourself and your organization. Are your procedures designed to maximize the customer experience? Does your internal vernacular not make sense to your client? Did you over promise and not deliver? Has your passive-aggressive style caused the conflict? Are you hyped up and excited with new projects only to fall into a ho-hum attitude as the project lingers? Think about it and be honest with yourself before you always blame the naughty customer.
There are ways, however, that you can either defuse the situation or avoid it altogether. Consider the following tips:
- Define your ideal customer. While this tip won’t help you to settle any volatile customer situations that have already happened, it will help you to improve the average quality of your customer, allowing you to avoid these types of situations in the future. Think about what characteristics your ideal customer would have, what types of pains, problems and challenges you can help them to overcome, what types of benefits they seek and how you can help them achieve them.
- Maintain control. Never let yourself get angry with a customer, and don’t bother trying to argue back. When a customer is angry, you’ve already lost the battle if you get aggressive in return. That’s not to say you should automatically make concessions. Stick to your terms of service and other guidelines that your company follows, and try to work within them to make the situation right. But do not be afraid to say no to requests if a customer is attempting to bully you into doing something that you don’t feel is right for your business.
- Try to solve the problem they have. Listen to the customer’s complaints, get all the facts that you can and then explain to the customer what you can do to help. However, it’s important that you avoid making promises that you aren’t completely sure you can keep.
- Sometimes, it’s OK to cut ties. The “customer is always right” mentality has convinced a lot of people that they have to concede to every wish of their customer, but that simply isn’t true. If you have a customer who is consistently difficult, complains publicly and constantly harms the morale of your employees, terminate the relationship. Life is too short to do business with people who are always jerks. They can suck the life out of your company at an alarmingly quick rate.
You can’t always smooth over a “naughty customer” situation, but you can control just how “nice” your business is.
Remember to set expectations early and often, be persistent, be insistent, be understanding before you demand to be understood. Do all of this with yourself, with your employees, with your leadership and with your customer. Then only accept those employees and customers that match all your abilities and defined targets, even when you need the sale the worst.
Feel free to contact us at Viral Solutions for more tips.