****Updated August 22, 2018 ****
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 🙂 Totally understandable. I worked with the public for many years. Some people are terrible! But, when are they too terrible to handle? When do you say, ‘maybe you would be better off going to our competitors’. Where is that line?
If you have worked in retail, sales, or customer service you know the feeling. Some customers just make 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!
Employees are a valuable asset keep them happy
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 cost 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 isn’t just about the money that that customer brings in. When you keep bad customers you risk more important pieces of your business. There are many factors to consider when “firing” a customer. Timing is a big factor. Here are my top three reasons. 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. That’s 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 hits your bottom line. By that point, you need to do address a few topics. How valuable are my employees? How much does this specific customer bring in profit wise? Has this customer referred you to other customers?
Who is more important? Your employee or customer?
Has your employee helped your business succeed? Does he or she keep your customers happy? Do they bring in new customers? What is invested in the employee with benefits (sick leave, vacation etc.) How much will it cost to hire and train a new team member?
You must account for a few costs when hiring someone new.
- The cost of posting the employment ad.
- The administrative costs of getting a new employee in the system.
- The productivity lost training a new employee and the time invested in that.
Which is more valuable? The customer or employee?
Protect your investment
I tend to lean toward taking the side of the employee. (Unless there is some reason you feel you shouldn’t with a particular person).
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. A loyal happy employee will be an advocate for the company and help you grow.
2. An unhappy employee can turn away good business. They will not speak 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 the time that could be spent obtaining and retaining other happy clients! The time could be used growing your business. So, is this customer worth it? Or is this customer a drain on your time and energy? 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
Social media and business review sites have exploded in popularity. Keeping your reputation in check is no joke. Ignoring issues with problematic customers can land you in hot water with your current customers. Their “experiences” become public. Then you find yourself losing customers. They tell their friends and colleges, and you lose more customers. Damage control can cost you a lot of time and money. Do you really want that? Why not nip it in 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 a strong brand identity, you need to do some marketing. Marketing is great! ( I love marketing!) But it can be costly. (This ties back to losing potential customers too.) Time is money. This article by Inc. has some good insight into the cost associated with obtaining versus retaining customers. It’s Cheaper to Keep Em’
I hope this has helped you out in your 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!”