I’m sure many of us have dreamed of the day. To tell an awful customer, You’re fired! Oh the satisfaction that would bring 🙂 I completely understand. I worked with the public for many years, and some of them can be terrible! But, when are they too terrible to handle? When do you say, ‘maybe you would be better off going to our competition’. Where is that line?
If you have worked in retail, sales, or customer service in any capacity; you know what its like to have that customer or client that makes your blood boil! They yell, they name call, they demand free services because of some perceived inconvenience.
But….they’re the customer, the customer is always right….right? Even if they make your blood boil!! Good news, they aren’t always right, sometimes they are very wrong!
I know guys like Gordon Selfridge and Marshall Field made it big ensuring customers always got exactly what they wanted. But, times have changed. Granted sometimes customers have legitimate complaints, however, not everyone is ethical. Most importantly, overly demanding customers can lose you money! There is a lot of great information out there of why you should “fire” bad customers (for example, this article by the Huffington post: Top 5 Reasons Why “the Customer is Always Right” is Wrong ) but, when do you sever a relationship with a customer? Where is that line? They are after all, giving you money…
It’s not completely cut and dry:
It really isn’t! It isn’t just about the money that that customer brings in, that you would lose! When you keep bad customers you risk more important pieces of your business. There are many factors to consider when “firing” a customer, and when the time is to do it. Here are my top three reason, but I’m sure there are many more!
Reason 1: You are losing your employees:
Most employees know that dealing with bad customers is part of the job. Some may not be able to handle that and leave, which is par for the course (especially in retail). However, it’s when you start seeing your very valuable, good employees leave because of customer abuse, that it could hit your bottom line. By that point, you need to do address a few topics. How much does this specific customer bring in profit wise? Has this customer referred you to other customers?
Versus how much has your employee helped your business succeed? How many customers has your employee brought in? How much have you invested in the employee with benefits (sick leave, vacation etc.) How much will it cost to hire and train a new employee? With this you have to account for not only the cost of posting the employment ad, and the administrative costs of getting a new employee in the system; but the productivity lost training a new employee and the time invested in that. Which is more valuable?
I tend to lean toward taking the side of the employee. (Unless there is some reason your feel you shouldn’t with a particular employee). There are a couple reasons for my response. 1. If the employee feels you are on their side, they are more likely to remain loyal to you. This effects not just your relationship with the employee, but a loyal happy employee will be an advocate for the company and help you grow. Versus an unhappy employee can turn away good business, and will not be speaking favorably about the company to their friends, family, and social media.
Reason 2: You are losing potential customers:
Ornery customers take up a lot of your time! That is time that could be spent obtaining and retaining other happy clients! That time could be used growing your business. So, is this customer worth it? Or is this customer a drain on your time and energy? How valuable is your time to your job? If the customer is ornery the likelihood that this client will refer you is pretty slim. So, why not send them to the competition? Have them waste their time and resources. That will give you an advantage 🙂 Call your marketing guru and get some good clients!
Reason 3: You are losing current customers:
Since the explosion of social media, and business review sites, keeping your reputation in check is no joke! Letting issues with problematic customers go on, can land you in hot water with your current customer base. They post their “experiences” online, and you find yourself losing customers. They tell their friends and colleges, and you lose more customers. They don’t want the same ‘perceived action’ to happen to them. Damage control can cost you a lot of time and money. Do you really want that? Why not nip it at the bud, and not do business with them. Thus, they have nothing to complain about 🙂
I’ll just get new customers:
Customers can be fickle, its just human nature. They will not necessarily be loyal to your brand. They can also be very expensive to replace, unless you have very strong brand identity, you need to do some marketing. Marketing is great! ( I love marketing!) But it can be costly, and that needs to be worth the effort. (This ties back to losing potential customers too.) Time is money. This article by Inc. has some good insight about the cost associated with the cost of obtaining versus retaining customers. It’s Cheaper to Keep Em’
I hope this has helped you out in you business endeavors. My reasons are based on my experiences working for various companies. I would love to hear from you, when have you told a customer “You’re fired!”