William Nozak, MBA
Better or Best Fit Customer
I did not say reviews! Maybe the impression was that there were no bad customers. You know, if the customer pays, then they are, by definition, good. I cannot agree less. If we cannot agree that there is ‘bad’ anything, then we can agree that in everything, there is a better fit or a best fit. For sake of the argument, if a better fit exists then a bad fit exists and we will term them bad customers. So how do we deal with bad customers that we have created. Can they be salvaged, or must they be fired? Caveat Venditor.
It depends on how it happened
If these bad customers are result of unmet expectations, or shirked fiduciary responsibilities, where we created a discrepancy between perceived value and actual value, then it is our responsibility to fix the problem. Here lies a tension between high standards and unobtainable standards. Yes, this group exists, is created by us, and must be retained by us. It is our duty to open their eyes and turn them from bad to good. Return them to their former glory, by returning yourself to your former glory; they will love you the more for it.
Fire them! Softly…
But, what about when a customer is not a good fit altogether. These bad customers are a problem. Above all when dealing with bad customers, we must use an exorbitant amount of grace and tact. There is no fast and furious way to fire these customers. And once we assist them in moving on, they and we are better off for it. Let us introduce a caveat that states not all bad customers must be excommunicated. That some can be salvaged, salvaged by persuasion. Simply setting guidelines or expectations for better behavior or treatment of staff may work. Only time can tell. One thing remains, the rest have to go. Getting rid of them without creating a problem for yourself is the rub.
The process is sticky…err on the side of caution
Returning bad customers to good customers, laying down the law with others, and firing the remainder is how we deal with bad customers. Tact, diplomacy, grace, keep filling in the blank, is the key. A final warning, when a bad customer must be fired, it is us who must take the high, much higher, highest road. No road but the highest road works. If you want a fired customer to become your worst nightmare on the web, then try the middle road. Repercussion for doing this badly is a bad review, rip-off report, BBB downgrade waiting to happen. You are in business because you love doing it, you can be the best at it, and it drives your economic engine. Stay classy.