Jane Dizon is a lifestyle, health, fitness, and nutrition enthusiast and blogger. She works at Royal Essence in her day job. In this post she shares what types of clients to fire if you come across them in your business.
Firing clients should be the last resort for any business. A client, be it a bad one, is still a paying client.
A great entrepreneur knows which clients to keep and which are the ones to cut ties with.
Obviously, you need to let go of “bad” clients. These clients are like black holes sucking in services, time, and money. There are different types of bad clients. There are those coming straight from hell that leash their wickedness at first sight. There are those stealth clients that attack when you least expect it. And there are those that just don’t fit your company’s core values and principles.
Let’s get to know these clients.
The Needy Client
These are clients that unnecessarily demand your team’s time, make outlandish requests, expect “extra” of, well, everything, and for those valid reasons you don’t give what they want, they will speak ill about your company and post bad reviews online.
Joshua M. Evans, CEO and Founder of Enthusiastic You!, had a client that accounted 2% of his company’s annual revenue and at the same time, 40% of his team’s time.
“I had a client that had spent a fair amount of money with us on technologically advanced software. This included 20% annual maintenance costs. After the initial sale, we did a formal training to make sure they understood how to use it correctly. This quickly transitioned into them believing they could monopolize the time of our development and support teams. It became a huge burden. They also began speaking badly about this to our other clients and complaining quite loudly at industry conferences about their ‘bad experiences’. After 2 years of trying to appease them, I approached my manager with a proposal to release them as a client. We had completed our contractual obligations. They were very unhappy. They made many threats, and professional and personal attacks on my character and the character of my colleagues. In the end, it hurt to release them, but we were able to serve the clients that were appreciative in a much better way.”
As soon as the client becomes unreasonably demanding, politely reiterate your business terms. Simply speaking, take your client back to Earth. If the client still continues to act like he owns your company, then that is the right time to let go. You can expect that the client will take this personally, but it is in everyone’s best interest to put out the smoke before it turns to fire.
The Bleep! Client
These clients love to cuss, profanity is their middle name. They say demeaning words to intensify a point or to humiliate you. When a client doesn’t respect you, what’s the point of doing business at all?
Hannah Grant, owner of Royal Essence, shares that in situations where the customer becomes rude and demoralizing, the secret is holding yourself back.
“I often tell my support team that customers are not always right. Rude callers really put your patience to test and I tell them that it’s okay to drop the call if profanity continues despite clear verbal warnings.”
When dealing with a foul-mouthed client through a phone call, the first thing to do is acknowledge the situation. Tell him that you understand his frustration and anger. After that, reassure him you’re doing your best to address the issue. If the rude behavior still continues, calmly let him know that you’re not comfortable and that he needs to call back again. Lastly, just hang up and document what happened.
The Obnoxious Client
This client gives away their true identity easily. It just takes a single interaction to know that a client is disrespectful. And one occurrence is enough to cut ties with this person.
“In my personal experience, bad customers don’t take very long to point out and can usually be identified with just one action from the individual. In our case, it was a hateful email towards homosexuality, and that was enough to determine that we no longer wanted this individual to be a part of our community of users.”
You don’t have to concede just to keep this client. No matter how racist, homophobic, sexist that client is, remember to keep calm and as graceful as you can, explain to him how you can no longer work with him because he’s a mismatch to your company’s core values.
It’s also important to remember that customers get to complain about businesses, not the other way around.
The M.I.A. Client
These are clients who are not cooperative, always missing-in-action, and then explode when something goes wrong. These are cunning and manipulative clients you don’t want to deal with. They find ways to put the blame on you. It’s always a no-win situation.
Michelle Aberant, Financial Operations Manager at Avanti Custom Home Builders, shares that she only keeps those clients who are fully committed.
“We treat our clients as partners. And as partners, both parties understand that full commitment is important in doing good business. Communication and cooperation are crucial. Seeking constant feedback from clients not only helps in meeting their expectations, it will also save you a lot of effort and money in redoing tasks.”
Make sure you have exhausted all communication means with your M.I.A. client before cutting ties. Your documentation is very important. Every unanswered email, missed call, cancelled meeting counts. One way to drop this to the client is by saying you can’t provide what they need, and there has been a lot of time and effort wasted going back and forth. Obviously, that’s not nice to hear and, who turns down business? Apologise and move on to other clients deserving of your resources.
The Untrusting Client
These are clients who always question your pricing, policies, management — basically, everything! Another habit they do is comparing you to other companies which, not only hurts the business relationship you have, is also very annoying.
In the business industry, trust is more important than ever. Natalie Bolivar, Director of Operations at FREE Branding & Digital, firmly believes that trust is the backbone of any business.
“Business relationship should be built on trust. It is the responsibility of business owners to make their clients or customers feel safe — that they are in good hands. Although, there are some clients that no matter how honest and transparent you are, can’t seem to trust you. It is difficult to work with people like those as it affects the work culture. At the end of the day, you just have to let go of these clients because you can’t build anything from a weak foundation.”
I’m sure, you have encountered at least one of these bad clients. They make your life hell and it’s okay to fire them.
Yes, that’s right! It’s okay to fire them. It’s okay to say no. Good clients are loyal and tend to spend more with your business. With that, you can grow your company while keeping them happy and rewarded.
Bad clients cost you more just to make them happy. They are rude (and abusive!) and spend as little as they can with your business. Keeping them will be unfair to you and your other clients.
It’s best to sever your ties with bad clients, and focus on those who are appreciative of your time and effort.
Jane is a lifestyle, health, fitness, and nutrition enthusiast and blogger. She is a nurse by profession and a writer by passion. She works at Royal Essence by day and a ninja mom by night. She has a soft spot for macadamia chocolate and green tea. You can connect with Jane on Twitter and Google+.